Structure Your Writing For Maximum Impact
Have you ever been talking to someone who was really excited about what they wanted to say and they end up just spraying words all over the place and then 10 or 15 minutes later they can’t really remember what they were talking about in the first place?
The internal process is something like this:
“Oh wow, this is so great, I have to tell them about this thing. Oh and there was this detail and that detail and that reminds me of this other thing I forgot to tell you earlier about this other person, which reminds me of this other time…..”
...aaaand we are now lost in the jungles of their mind. Kinda crazy in there… something might bite….
Written communication can follow a similar process if you are not deliberate with how you write. If you have too many things you want to express, the messages get all garbled and mixed together, buried under too many adjectives and tangents.
This is not good. Even if people are able to bushwhack their way through all of it to the end, they still may not really know what to do once they get there.
So how can we deal with this? How can we approach our written communication in a way that’s not so much like an untamed firehouse? Or leaves an aftertaste sawdust? How can we write in a way that leads the reader right to the point where they understand what we expressed and what to do next?
Structure to the Rescue!!!!
A general format that was developed in the early days of Copywriting, and can be applied to pretty much any form of writing, especially persuasive writing (especially emails!) is tha AIDA formula.
Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.
It creates a flow, that channels the reader to the desired action. So let’s dig in a little bit:
Attention: Get their attention. Maybe you just address them by first name. Maybe you make a surprising or curious statement. Or you ask a question. Whatever it is, you need to get someone’s attention in the first place to get them to read the rest of your message.
Interest: Build interest by giving facts, tell a story, whatever. The point here is to draw them in a little further. If the reader gets bored, they will probably stop reading or scan through to the bottom and miss all the juicy details.
Desire: Build up some desire for whatever it is you are selling, whatever it is you are wanting them to do. How will this benefit them? How does this improve their life?
Action: What do they need to do? Be clear and specific. Don’t assume they know. They don’t. Most people are pretty distracted and attention is moving all over the place. If you don’t clearly state what they need to do, they will probably just check facebook.
So, just for fun, let’s say we want to send an email to a stressed out friend and implore them to meditate.
Attention: Hey Sally, are you feeling stressed out?
Interest: I just read this book on meditation and it’s pretty cool. It does all this real physiological stuff, you know? It’s totally been shown to lower your cortisol (THE stress hormone), lower your blood pressure, improve your immune response, even improve your mood, and reverse all sorts of the damage done by chronic stress.
Desire: if you meditate just 10 minutes a day, you will feel happier and less stressed out.
Action: Action: So right now, please, just turn off the computer and meditate for 10 minutes RIGHT NOW. DO IT NOW!!!
This is clearly not terribly refined, but you get the idea. From here, go back, delete the section names, and work on the flow a little bit and violla! You have a pretty good little email!
AIDA is a loose structure you can easily rely on when you want to persuade someone to do something. Try it out, it totally works.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how it’s working for you! If you get some good results or need some help or whatever. I love seeing growth in action!