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Power articles

Writing power content

Learn the Secrets of Writing Articles with Relevance and Clarity, and Get Your Message Understood. 

Writing power articles is all about finding the best way to package your message so that the reader immediately sees how it is relevant to them and it is understood with your intended meaning. 

This technique can be used for simple and complex messages; the more complex the message, the more comprehensively packaged the message must be. 

The diagram below outlines the steps involved in getting your message across to the reader. To depict these challenges, I have chosen the analogy of a vehicle trying to deliver a parcel that travels on a certain quality of road, through a thick fog. 

The vehicle represents your intentions behind the message, the quality of the road represents your level of authority based on trust and status, and the thick fog represents the environment and shared experiences used to communicate your message. 

In this analogy, choosing the right vehicle to travel on the smoothest road in fine weather and in a familiar environment would all increase the chances of a successful and efficient delivery.

Choosing the right vehicle

1: Choosing the right vehicle

Let the Reader Know Your Intentions Your intentions behind the message are the most important part of the article; your intentions will raise the expectations of the reader. 

If your intentions are unclear, you risk losing the reader, and the prospect of your message never being received. 

How you disclose your intentions can be described using the Gricean Maxims (see Improving Relevance). 

  • The quality aspect of your intentions represent the truth behind your claims and the evidence to prove the facts you use. You would emphasise quality when you anticipate cautious readers; raising doubt in your message will crush any assumed credibility. 
  • The quantity aspect of your intentions represent the amount of information you claim to be providing. You would emphasise quantity when you anticipate the reader is looking for specific information. 
  • The relevance aspect of your intentions represent the subject of your claims. You would emphasise relevance when you anticipate the reader is looking for relatable experiences. 
  • The clarity aspect of your intentions represent your claims of how you intend to deliver the information. You would emphasise clarity when you anticipate the reader is looking for a process for guidance. 

Use the Headline and Promise to Encapsulate your Intentions 

Instead of using the headline to state the result, try to describe the benefits the reader will gain once they have understood your message. 

Use the promise (the first part of your article) to outline your intentions in detail. Emphasise the aspects of your intentions to satisfy the anticipated readers' ability and requirements.

Communication fog

2: Entering and Clearing the Communication Fog

Create the Environment. 

The reader will find your article relevant if they apply their own experiences, perception and inference to obtain conclusions that matter to them. 

By describing an environment with scenarios you anticipate the reader will be able to relate to, you can create scenes in their minds eye that allows you to demonstrate or unfold your message at the peak of their expectations and hence delivered with maximum impact.

Smooth highway

3: Building a Smooth Highway to Understanding

Become the Trusted Adviser.

Trust will develop in your relationship if you can continually pass the tests of integrity, ability and benevolence. 

Depending on the environment you have created and the experiences you are sharing, certain aspects will be more important than the others. 

Emphasise your evidence of reputation and integrity to help develop your trust when describing experiences where consistency and honesty are important. 

Emphasise your evidence of benevolence to help develop your trust when describing concern and sincerity are important. 

Emphasise your evidence of ability to help develop your trust when describing competence, proficiency and share of control are important. 

Influence the Reader Along Your Desired Path.

Your ability to influence will be determined by the environment you create, the experiences you share and your percieved status within this environment. 

How you represent your culture and reputation, passion and motives, systems and organisation, and style, will reflect your personality, charm, and benevolence, and hence your ability to influence. 

Emphasise your culture and reputation to help demonstrate the quality of your resources and support. 

Emphasise your passion and motives to help demonstrate the strength in your beliefs and the risks you are prepared to take to show concern. 

Emphasise your systems and organisation to help demonstrate the structure behind the information you are providing. 

Emphasise your style to help demonstrate your reasoning skills and your willingness to compromise.

Deliver the message

4: Deliver the Message

Influence using impartial or persuasive techniques.

Impartiality

Offer impartiality by setting the scene as you see it, ensuring that your motives are completely transparent. Reason with current opinions and offer alternatives. Empathise with the reader by comparing your views with others. Summarise and show understanding for the readers concerns by dealing with objections. 

Agree outcomes by stating your conclusions and suggesting the next step. 

Persuasiveness 

Persuade your reader by stating your views and outlining the benefits you offer. Link these benefits with your passion and motives and show concern for the welfare of the reader. 

Position your arguments by describing known problems and how they are currently solved, explaining why your solution is better. Clarify common goals and provide new information that supports your argument. Be willing to reason and compromise with your reader. 

Explain your motives and why you offer these solutions. State your obligations and any promises to deliver the stated results.

Reflection and analysis

5: Support the Reader with Reflection and Analysis

The reader will understand the message the way you intended if the information was relevant to them. 

This can only happen when the reader is able to apply their own experiences in terms of memory, perception and inference and obtain conclusions that matter to them. 

It is therefore important to allow the reader time to reflect on the new information you have provided, and allow them to analyse and digest it. Offer alternative articles that support your arguments. 

Provide access to a wider range of reading material to help inform your reader. Give them a better understanding behind your intentions and motives by offering choices in what to read.

Destination

6: Conclusions and Outcomes

Describe the Destination.

Using the environment you have created, wrap-up and conclude your experiences and summarise with the new found benefits. Reiterate the message and explain why your intentions make the message relevant.

Alternate paths

7: Call to Action

Offer alternative paths to readers with more experience.

Consider the abilities of your reader: 

  • The Naively Optimistic Interpreter will draw conclusions from the first message that makes sense to them. Offer the simplest next step to this reader; they will accept the easiest path. 
  • The Cautious Optimist will explore the message to gain a deeper level of understanding. Offer background information to support their reasoning. 
  • The Knowledgeable Understander will infer meaning from the information, but will only appreciate and value the message if it reached the expectations suggested by your intentions. Make the call to action interesting by challenging these readers to more in-depth paths of discovery.
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