Using words to engage your audience

Using words to engage your audience

By Chris Silberston


20 writing tips from A Thousand Monkeys.

'Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly - they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.' Aldous Huxley

You've spent a disturbing amount of your next 5 years' budget on your new website. You've hired a fresh-faced graduate social media/design/digital type person. You've spent months thinking about brand colours and web fonts.

Then you realise you haven't written any copy. Whoops.

Words are still the main way your audience interacts with marketing materials, whether it's your new website or your latest flyer. So if you're responsible for the copy on your next project, make sure it's not just an afterthought.

Here are 20 of A Thousand Monkeys' best tips to help you engage your audience, because we're generous like that.

1. Get ready
Before you even consider writing anything, do some prep.

Research, jot down ideas, gather quotes and examples, plan themes and structure, and put on a big pot of tea.

2. Keep it short
Short is powerful. Like this story:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Try to aim for under 15 words per sentence. More like 8 for digital content.

3. Keep it simple

'[Hemingway] has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.' William Faulkner

'Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are
older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.' Ernest Hemingway

Don’t use a complicated word where a simple one will do. We learn simple words first, so these are the ones that have the most meaning to us.

4. Try, try, and try again
No one gets it right first time. Keep your draft, but don’t be afraid to try something different. Or start again. Be tough on yourself –
your first attempt was probably rubbish anyway.

5. Do something different
Go analogue and use a pen and paper. Or go to a coffee shop. Or spray-paint ideas on your theatre’s safety curtain. Variety in your routine is the best way to add originality.

6. Look outside the arts for inspiration
Play Pokémon Go. Read Fifty Shades of Grey. Try a bubble tea. If you can figure out why those things are so popular you’ll be able to convince anyone of anything. Copywriting is just selling ideas after all – it doesn’t matter if it’s a mobile game or a contemporary dance show

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Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2016