Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.
Too much noise, too much content: readers crave simplicity. Writing made simple wins readers’ hearts.
Yes, they want explanations. They want solutions. But they don’t want to spend hours or unnecessary brainpower to understand instructions, grasp an idea, or get things done.
That’s where you can step in and provide simplicity in two ways: by writing simply and clearly. (You can get tips for simple, clear, easy-to-understand writing here.)
And by using the word “simple” in your writing.
“Simple” is a power word. Power words work immediately, arouse emotion, and move a reader to act.
Let’s look at the different ways this power word resonates with readers, how it helps them, and how to use it to make content understandable.
TMI (Too Much Information) is more than a humorous expression that points out excess personal revelations. It’s a real issue. Readers are drowning in content, information, and details. No one can process it all, yet everyone wants to be informed. And people believe there is no excuse for not being informed.
A claim of simplicity is powerful because it wades through the volume of content that assaults readers every day. Albert Einstein said it well: “Out of clutter, find simplicity.” Use this power word in a headline, subject line, or summary statement and you’ll pull readers into your content. But only do so when you’re able to whittle large amounts of information, details, or instructions to the basics.
“Simple” is an antidote to the complex, fancy, or elaborate. Yet “simple” doesn’t mean simplistic. On the contrary, our complicated world is based on simple building blocks: computer files are a series of 0s and 1s. Atoms are made of basic protons, electrons, and neutrons. Yet those simple building blocks build sophisticated electronic software sequences and intricate organisms.
“Simple” acknowledges that there may be plenty of moving parts, but they are understandable. It is a promise that you’ll present thorny ideas in a way that’s easily understood or done. Use this power word when you’ve got multi-layered content that can overwhelm readers. You’ll make it manageable for them. You can also use the word “simple” judiciously throughout the content to emphasize when plain is a good choice over-elaborate (“Choose a simple black suit for your interview.”)
Some people thrive on multitasking. Others require strict sequencing to perform tasks. But it’s a rare person who flourishes in chaos and upheaval. “Simple” promises to order confusion.
Use this power word when you’ve got multiple sources or several conflicts in your content and you’re able to present them in an organized fashion. For example, you can offer a “Simple Summary” in a headline when you’re presenting several opposing points of view on an issue or “A Simple Guide for Changing Your Car Oil” for a series of steps and sub-steps.
Put the word “simple” in a headline, a lead, or a guarantee, and then make sure you deliver clear, uncomplicated content. Otherwise — if your explanation or solution is too long, too complicated, too superficial, or too confusing — the reader will feel cheated. Worse, a reader may feel stupid. You promised the content would be “simple” but to them, it’s not.
Instead, write as simply and clearly as you can. And use the word “simple” to pull in your readers. They will be relieved because the answer they’ve been seeking is easy to grasp after all. Even better, you’ll get your point across in a way they understand. Which is why you’re writing in the first place, right?
More Writing Tips for Using Power Words
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