I’ve been listening to Made to Stick on audiobook and it’s inspiring me in the way I blog. This book is already being called one of the best business books ever written because it shows clearly how to make you ideas memorable, or sticky (as the authors call it).
One of the things the authors state is that simplicity is very important if you want to create memorable ideas. When they simplicity, they mean finding your core message and cutting out the extraneous elements. By doing this, it makes it much easier for people to remember your idea.
This principle is definitely a great idea when working online, because – let’s face it – most people going online are very busy and have tons of distractions. If you communicate more than one core message, your messages will probably get lost in the noise of online information.
Let’s apply this principle to blogging. If you want your posts to be memorable, to be remembered even months later, you need to be able to just say one thing. Have a central theme for each of your posts.
Remember from English college class when the professor gave you the first step for creating a good term paper: come up with a great thesis statement – not two or more. And then as you write your paper, make sure the rest of your paper supports that statement.
Sadly, too often my posts don’t have a clear thesis statement but go into many different tangents and are hard to follow. Also, I find myself covering too many topics in a single post.
The Inverted Pyramid Journalism Technique
One of the tools that’s helped me write more focused posts comes from the world of journalism. I found out about it in Made to Stick. It’s called the inverted pyramid and it helps journalists craft their stories.
It’s called the inverted pyramid because at the top of an inverted pyramid is the widest part, which represents the most important part of the story. This is like a thesis statement and should go at the beginning of the story. You want the most crucial information at the beginning of the post to “hook” your reader and get them to read more of your post. For the rest of the story, savvy journalists will share details supporting the core message. Each succeeding paragraph is less and less important than the opening paragraph that contains the core message.
Sometimes the most crucial information is not the apparent right away so don’t be afraid to take some time to think of the most important info and then craft a relevant title and opening paragraph based on that info.
Also, this technique also works for non-writers. If your preferred medium is something like audio or video, you can get a lot of value from the technique. In your audio podcast or video, start it off with the most important info to grab the attention of your audience. Then craft the rest of your audio or video content with material that supports that info.