We live in the information age. And it’s being dumped on us by the truckload. Three pounds of stuff in the mailbox a day. Hundreds of TV channels, streaming services to binge on. 623 e-mail messages selling male enhancement pills per day.
And that’s only a fraction of the information that bombards us. There are billboards along highways, news broadcasts on the radio, newspapers, bills, books, seminars, random conversations at lunch time, business meetings, it never ends.
This information overload is felt even when you walk into the supermarket cereal aisle and have to choose from about 200 boxes screaming with bright colors and promises of low fat and high fiber, when all you want is lots of sugar and a cool little plastic prize or something like that.
Kinda of makes you dizzy, right?
There’s just too much information to process. And when people feel overwhelmed, they react in ways that aren’t good for your blog.
Whatever your blog is about, it all boils down to information, usually in the form of words people have to read. But people will stop reading when they feel overloaded, or they’ll filter out difficult information and look for stuff that is easier to understand, or they’ll simply misunderstand what you’re talking about and won’t respond in the way you want.
Or, worst of all, they may just ignore you altogether.
So… what is to be done?
Well, you can do some simple things in your writing to make the information you present clear, simple, and easy to understand.
- Make clarity your primary objective. You can’t communicate or persuade someone if that person doesn’t understand your point. Don’t write to show off or call attention to how smart or clever you are. Simplify your message. Make it easy to understand. Good writing is like a clean pane of glass in a storefront—you don’t notice the glass, but you can clearly see what you want on the other side.
- Decide what you want to say before you say it. Don’t just hope something sensible will reveal itself as you write. Plan and outline. Think about the point you want to make. Determine the tone or emotional feel. Know where you’re headed before you start. This helps you stay on point and avoid distracting ideas.
- Organize your information visually. Don’t be one of those bloggers who thinks subheads, bold face, and bullets are just for search engine optimization. They’re really for visual organization.
- Link information with familiar ideas. If there’s any chance for misunderstanding, use a simple analogy that relates to something your reader is already familiar and comfortable with.
- Inject emotional content. Ideas are easier to understand and remember when they are linked with emotional content or intense feelings.People process emotional ideas more easily than intellectual ones. Make people feel so they don’t have to think so hard.
- Focus on one big idea. Don’t dump too many messages on your reader at once. Start with a simple idea. Then build and reinforce that one idea, adding information paragraph by paragraph, always linking back to that one big idea. Take this blog post for instance: my big idea is information overload. Each point I make refers to that one point. Even if one point isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be, the reader will never be lost or feel overwhelmed because I’m really only talking about one simple idea.
- Present your main idea at the beginning and end of your articles. People tend to remember what comes first and what comes last. Things in the middle are usually forgotten. In a blog post of any length, state your point early in the post and restate it at the end. Follow the rule for good public speaking: Tell ‘em what you’re going to say. Say it. Tell ‘em what you just said.
If you apply these ideas to your blog posts, you can reduce the feeling of information overload for your readers. If your blog becomes an oasis of clarity and simplicity in this sea of confusing information we live in, people will want to spend more time on your site reading and responding to what you have to say.