Unsure About What to Write or Say? Do These Six Things.
We've all suffered from "blank-page syndrome." You know, when the cursor on your page just blinks, but you can't think of what to write no matter what you think or do?
Sometimes not knowing what to write or say will happen when you are giving a presentation or simply talking to others.
Regardless of how you got there, the feeling is uncomfortable and makes you want to shift gears to something else so you'll feel successful.
But this phenomenon happens to some of us more than others.
My recent survey found that 36% of you are unsure about what to write or say. (Boy, have I been there more times than I can count.)
No matter what hat you wear in business, connecting with your audience (internally or externally) is key.
From products and services to presentations to marketing emails to podcast interviews—you need to find the right words to inform, educate, persuade, or sell.
So, how do you move from a blank page to meaningful content?
The answer lies in the #1 rule of writing: Know Your Audience.
When you know and understand what is important to your audience, you are in possession of an endless resource for things to write and say.
There are many ways to uncover what is important to your customers. Let's examine six ways you can quickly discover what to write or say.
Six Ways to Unlock What to Say.
If you want to know what is on the mind of your customers, ask them. Simply craft some open-ended questions and interview people. Take it a step further by creating a survey. When you take the time to ask specific questions, you'll uncover a long list of topics you can wax poetic on. Before you know it, your page will no longer be blank. (Chapter 24 in Joyful Copy walks you through how to survey your audience and ask questions—complete with examples and how-to guides.)
If you want a role model for asking questions, look no further than Jesus. He used questions to build relationships, create conversations, cause introspection, address concerns, make arguments, reveal inadequacies, and engage with others. (Read the four gospels for 339 examples.) Unlike humans, Jesus already knew the answers to the questions He asked. But following the approaches He modeled, you, too, can ask your audience questions to uncover a wealth of topics you can address in whatever you write and say.
Since you know your audience best, you should keep a running list of objections you encounter when you talk with them. Not only does your list of objections give you something to write about and say, but addressing potential objections head-on will remove potential roadblocks you might encounter when you ask them to do something. (Those somethings could include anything from reply now, sign up here, join me tonight, or buy now.)
The Ultimate How-To Guide (aka God's Word) recounts time and again encounters with people who challenged, poked, disbelieved, and scoffed. Ironically, Paul took his job of persecuting believers a bit too seriously before He had a personal encounter with God. Once he saw the truth, he met challengers head-on with reasoning and persuasion. Addressing objections opened many doors and found God working through him. (See Acts 19:8-11) Writing about objections will work for you in many ways, including giving you much to write and say.
While answering why is just a different angle for overcoming objections, it will also show prospective customers WHY you do what you do and give them a reason to buy or take a specific action when the time is right.
To do this, consider your audiences' whys and how your products or services will help them achieve those basic needs. (The basic need whys include: making and saving money, avoiding pain and gaining comfort, improving health, feeling loved or praised, and saving time and effort.) Master copywriter Jim Edwards says it is important to include more than one reason why in your writing.
Discovering why things happen or solve basic needs is intrinsic to humans. (Incidentally, you can find much written on why humans ask why in books and online.) Regardless of what the world says, the One who holds all the answers encourages us to ask Him and seek Him for answers. James 1:5 teaches us to ask God for wisdom, while Jeremiah 33:3 instructs us to take our questions to Him. Similarly, we will connect with our audience better when we answer why.
Write about your solution's flaws or mistakes you've made. (Seriously!) Let your truthfulness shine through with facts and examples. Being transparent and honest will increase your credibility and draw the right people in. While most try to bury the imperfections, errors, and things that have gone sideways, being honest will make customers like you more than the other guys who fake it. In turn, you will build credibility and trust with your audience.
As you read through the stories of the Bible, you'll see many characters who modeled honesty. For some examples, look at the stories of Samuel, Daniel, David, and Jesus. While humans made mistakes, too, they were transparent about what happened. Honesty and transparency are attributes that draw people in closer. You and I would be wise to follow these examples in the things we write and say.
Learning something new will create emotional engagement with your audience, even if it is just a unique perspective. Share tips for overcoming a problem your audience encounters that your business solves. Make the steps simple and easy to follow.
One of the greatest role models we have for teaching are found int the lessons Jesus taught. While many have analyzed what and how He taught, it all boils down to giving specific instructions, asking people to take action, and getting a report on what happened. (Luke 9:1-6, 10.) From now until then, teaching people how to do something is one of the easiest ways to connect with others.
Well-written short stories will connect with your audience's mind and emotions more effectively than academic or sales speak ever could. While there are many frameworks for telling stories that will build connections with your customers, the basics include context, conflict, and solution. Want to draw them in further? Add a bit of curiosity to your story.
In the Ultimate How-To Guide, we see example after example of Jesus telling stories to make points. Known as parables, He used common language without jargon so everyone could understand. (Matthew 13:34) He used storytelling to capture attention, stir emotions, and help people remember what He shared. With such a great model to follow, using storytelling should be easy for you and me to replicate.
Now that you know ways to uncover what to say, I can't wait to hear how the different approaches work for you. Send me an email with any questions about the various approaches, and I'll be happy to respond. Better yet, drop me a line and let me know how they worked for you. I look forward to hearing from you.