You consider yourself a great writer, maybe the best at your company. You’ve written about religion, education, medicine and legal matters for your various clients. Then you’re hit with this assignment: Write 800 words on key I&O technology trends.
It’s your job as a writer to “fake it until you’re not faking it anymore,” meaning, sometimes you have to sound like an expert on a topic even when you know little about the industry. But everyone has their limits. For some, it’s technology. For others, sports. Writing about legal matters is a whole new ballgame, due to the, you know, legal issues of publishing incorrect facts.
The problem is that if you don’t actually sound like an expert, then your readers will know instantly. Effective business and professional tech writing, for example, is tough to do if you aren’t intimately familiar with the topic.
Case in point: Awhile back, content marketing firm Nimble Media had a big batch of assignments about fantasy football. For some reason, a chunk of those stories were assigned to UK writers. They know football, but they don’t know American football.
So when Nimble Media received its stories, it was painfully obvious that the writers had never seen an American football game. The writers spent more time describing the basic rules than they gave actual decent fantasy league advice. And something like that is immediately obvious to avid sports fans in the U.S.
So How Do You Write About the Cloud and Federal Taxation of Corporations?
Fortunately, you can still pen some of these articles without sounding like an idiot. Effective business and professional writing, remember, takes practice. Lots of practice.
Rule No. 1? Write, write and write some more. Take some of those topics you struggle with, then write about them at least once a week, more if you have the time. After a while, you’ll learn how to cover the topic and where to quickly and easily find information.
A few other tips comes from Jonathan Wray of Copypress Community:
1) It’s OK to Have a Meltdown: Remember that scene from Jerry Maguire when he completely wigs out? That’s OK, Wray explains. “Allow yourself some time to quickly go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, eventually, acceptance – and move on,” he tells Copypress Community.
2) Research Effectively: Wray recommends using Google Scholar and trustworthy sites as opposed to user-generated sites like Wikipedia. Make sure, though, that your research is up to date. If you’re using Google, go to your Search Tools and change the date range. You can also click on “news” or even “blogs.” Otherwise, you might get a bunch of company sites rather than actual useful information or worse, you’ll find outdated info. Once you find a good site, bookmark it.
3) Find an Expert to Review it Afterward: If at all possible, have someone familiar with the topic look over your story before submitting it. If the client is understanding, you could even get him or her to look at it before it’s ready to go. Along those lines, if your client doesn’t mind answering questions, send him or her a list of them before you start writing, and ask for good resources and websites they follow.
4) Does It Make Sense to Your Mother?: This tip comes from us, and it’s a good one. When you get a difficult topic, think about how you would explain it to your mother before you start proofreading your story. You wouldn’t use the jargon and nonsensical gobley gook industry experts use. Instead, you’d put it in plain English. You’re not dumbing it down; rather, you’re explaining it in such a way that everyone can grasp the concept. The same applies to writing a difficult to understand topic. After you’ve done your research, ask yourself whether you understand it well enough to explain it to your mother. If not, then you probably need to spend more time researching.