Without the right approach, complex content could end up being a lullaby to your audience and a waste of time for you, the creator. Today, more than ever, people are constantly being distracted by one thing or another so if they click on your content, it needs to keep their attention. Complex information will not do that unless it is artfully simplified.
While it may seem like something easy to do, when you actually try to do it, do not be surprised if you spend a lot more time scratching your head and staring at a blank page wondering how to begin. To save you the damage to your scalp, here are 10 tips to simplify complex content for your audience.
Try to Think Like Your Audience
It is easy not to realize how complex your content is if you do not know your audience. Since you are the expert on the subject, you may find everything about it simple to take in. Complexity actually depends on the audience. For example, Mark Zuckerberg may find an article on color cording your wardrobe a complex subject while Naomi Campbell may not.
You would need to know your audience and then begin to think like them so that you can breakdown the subject effectively for them. This will even make it easier to use examples they can relate to.
Focus on the Key Points and Leave Out the Noise
This comes down to organizing your thoughts before you put pen to paper- so to speak. You need to have a planning session where you take note of the main ideas you would like to bring out. Do not be shy to take out a notebook and write down the points you intend to bring out. This will help you avoid rumbling on and on to a point that the main ideas are lost and there is a lot of clutter on your page. Cluttered thoughts will just become noise and turn off a reader.
Explain Industry Specific Terms if you Cannot Leave Them Out
Industry-specific terms are the epitome of complexity. They are known mainly to you in that field and when unleashed on a civilian, they just make it harder for them to understand what you are saying. If possible, leave this out, but if they contribute towards the understanding of the content, you would then have to follow up with a clear and simple explanation. Remember though not to dumb it down, that may instead annoy the reader.
Make it Memorable With Pictures
Researchers have proven that pictures do not only help to illustrate but also help you remember. And, if someone remembers, it is possibly easier to understand even without having to go back and read again. The pictures, however, should not be complex. Simple sketches may work better than a Picasso drawing.
Add Passion to Your Writing
Before you can get the reader to feel the need to read any further, you need to feel the need to communicate to the reader!
Passion about the subject you are writing will magically transfer to your content and hopefully infect the reader too. Have energy in the way you deliver what you have to say, let the reader get drawn to the subject and want to carry on reading to the end. Readers can actually detect lethargy in the way you write. The lack of interest you have in your writing will make the subject even more complex.
Embrace Current Trends
Today, people are watching a lot more videos than ever before, that is a trend you may want to use to your advantage, where appropriate, you may use a video to explain a topic or simply to increase interest and cut the monotony. Animated videos can go a long way in driving the point home while entertaining the audience. However, do not overdo it to the point that it overshadows the key message.
Use Examples and References Your Audience can Relate to
If you know your audience like earlier advised, it is a lot easier to fit everyday life examples that they would easily understand. When quoting professionals in the field, choose the most recognized or popular person, this will not only help them remember but also add credibility to what you are saying and make the audience psychologically open to knowing more because they feel a connection with what you are saying.
Introduce New Ideas with Subheadings
Subheadings prepare a reader for a new idea, they are like a bell at the beginning of a new period in school. They announce the new idea and give an insight into what to expect next. Subheadings are also like bookmarks, if a reader wishes to pause and reflect on what they just read, it is a lot easier and they can then pick up where they left off. Without subheadings, complex content can seem very imposing and put off a reader even before they have started reading it.
Serialize the Content
Some content is complex because it has different components that need to be understood separately. You can turn this into a number of series so that the audience does not have to try and understand everything at once. This is almost like using subheadings, only that each series may be much longer than a subheading. If for example, you need 3000 words to explain a topic, why not publish 1000 words each day for 3 days.
Read Through, Edit, Rewrite and Repeat the Process
When you are done creating the content and you think it is ready to publish, read through it and check to be sure that it is perfect. Search for possible jargon that may have slipped through the cracks, try and summarize it even more and then read like you are your audience and see if it may still come off as complex or sleep-inducing. Rewrite it even better than the first time and then better than the second time until it is perfect.
All these tips, however, will not help much if you do not have a clear understanding of the subject you are writing about. Do research even if you think you are an expert and try to learn more than you already know because explaining takes wide knowledge of a subject.
Also, do not oversimplify it. Think of a wheat garden with weeds, do not remove the wheat along with the weeds because then you will just have a field with nothing left.