Simplifying Complex Content for the Masses
Have you ever watched the Big Bang Theory? If so, you might have an idea of what it feels like to watch something being said that you have absolutely no idea about, and you can see the effect it has on the person who’s feeling dumb because they don’t understand a word you are saying. And yes, I am in fact implying you are Penny.
For those who have never watched an episode of the Big Bang Theory and have no idea what I’m talking about, imagine a situation like this. I am a neuroscientist and I make a huge discovery that if you eat three bananas at once while drinking milk through your nose your IQ will rocket sky high.
Now I want to convey the point over to you, but instead of putting it like I just did, I start explaining to you about neuroscience and stimuli and you are completely lost. How does that make you feel?
Allow your readers to follow through with you
This same principle applies to nearly all forms of media, but we’ll focus only on blogging and article writing to keep everything from spreading too wide.
When you get that perfect idea for a blog post in your head and just want to start writing, and keep on writing until you are done, you must not forget who you are writing to.
Your idea might be extremely useful for your audience, but if you write it out as something overly complex and sophisticated, you will miss out on many readers following through with you. Showing off your smarts in a way that others can follow you through with ease is a true show of intellect, not dropping difficult words everywhere and acting all genius.
You’ll be labelled as a douche, or better yet, you’ll lose all your readers doing that. So don’t.
But then how can you keep your audience following you through with the complex content while maintaining a profound insight into the subject? It is actually far more obvious than you might imagine, and I will show you how, just stick with me and you’ll make it.
Everybody loves a good analogy, except when the analogy is about a surgeon operating the third vascular muscle from the right, and someone goes “Yeah, that’s exactly what this is like.” Suddenly everyone hates analogies, funny that.
Notice how I started this article? I started talking about something that has proven to be popular among the masses, because if it manages to accumulate nearly 20 million viewers for its latest full season on TV, there is bound to be at least one who will understand the analogy straight away.
For those who don’t watch the phenomenally exciting and entertaining series (I think I just helped The Big Bang Theory hit 20 million viewers, you’re welcome Chuck Lorre) it is very easy to access information about it. After all, it is was the second most popular on American television last year.
Even after the analogy, I explained the situation, making subtle references to a character’s profession and research in the series, while explaining everything clearly and concisely to those who don’t follow the series regularly (or, shame on you, at all).
Making your article easy to access and spice it up with a good analogy and you’re off to an excellent start.
Trying to decide whether an analogy is easy enough for most of your readers to understand is rather simple, just Google to basic concept of your analogy, in my case I would Google “The Big Bang Theory”.
If there are millions of results and a comprehensive Wikipedia article, you are safe using the analogy. If the niche is more specific, you’ll have to trust your expertise in the field.
You can also ask a friend to read through it and see if they understand it, provided they are interested in the same topic as you are writing about.
For a superb fact-filled package about analogies, you can head to Yourdictionary’s Analogy Examples page. If you don’t learn something when reading through that page, you might just be as shard as a beach ball. And yes, that is a metaphor, in case you were wondering.
Talking smack can be superb fun on a Saturday night over beers and a football match, but it’s not the most exciting thing to read when you are trying to learn something about content creation or football for that matter.
Always make the information that you promise in the title accessible to your readers, because then you don’t have to read all those comments about how you write a good story, but it has absolutely no facts, or attempts of educating anyone for that matter.
When trying to make complex content accessible for the masses, you must also consider your vocabulary. Not everyone has an Ivy-league education or an Oxford dictionary in their back pocket at all times.
By making sure you write things in a simple way you maintain certainty over your audience being able to grasp your points and turn them into their benefit. Because that is why you do this, isn’t it?
Out of these two Merriam-Webster is regarded as the “supreme” source of information regarding vocabulary, but both have proven themselves to me as excellent tools for research and writing on multiple occasions.
Interviews can be a bit tricky, and the process from actually doing an interview to polishing it up and presenting it to your readers is worth an article on its own, but from the perspective of complexity, it’s not that difficult at all.
You just have to keep in mind a few important pointers, such as asking dumb questions is not what you should try and avoid, but instead make sure you ask those dumb questions.
That way, you’ll get your complex topic dumbed down by the expert, and you don’t have to keep banging your head on the wall trying to figure it out yourself.
Sometimes it’s better to admit your lack of knowledge, rather than pretend to possess it all.
Other important things to keep in mind is to ask follow up questions, which give your interview a nice depth and a feel of expertise. While a very simple piece of advice, it is absolutely vital to never forget this.
By having a shallow and only mildly educating interview is not the end of the world, but it’s not something you can publish and expect gratitude for.
Unless you managed to ask Matt LeBlanc “How you doin’?” In that case a short and snappy question is perfectly acceptable, because it’s entertaining and something most of us can relate to.
That leads us to the last interview pointer, which is ask the interviewee of any interesting stories they might have relating to what your interview is about.
Usually you’ll end up with something good, and although it might not win you your Pulitzer Prize, it will make your audience more excited whenever you publish your latest piece.
An excellent guide to interviews can be found from Inc. Magazine, written by Jeff Haden. It was penned to help an employer interview new employees, but it also breaks the process of interviewing into 13 simple yet clever steps that allow you to focus more on the writing about it part later, knowing you can be confident that you conducted the interview to the best of your abilities.
Check your facts before hitting the ‘Publish’ button
Nobody likes to read something, learn from it, and after a while hear what they just spent time learning is complete horse manure. That’s not fun and entertaining at all.
Before you send out your latest masterpiece, always check your facts. Or at least have a friend check your work for spelling errors.
Where to fact check your content from? Wikipedia comes first to my mind… A little initiative won’t hurt either, so I’ll let you figure out where to find this place called the “Wikipedia”.
What did we learn here?
Well, you made it through! How does it feel? Hopefully not exhausting or like a waste of time, because that’s not why I write these posts.
As a final pointer, I will advise you to follow your comments section (and if you’re struggling to get comments check out our guide how to get more blog comments on your blog), and listen to the feedback given to you by your readers. They are the ones who have to read your mongering, so make sure you listen to them when they suggest improvements.
And now, this is a good ending for this article, and please, if you have any questions, ideas, suggestions or funny cat pictures, please leave a comment below!
Have a wonderful day.