Would you start a speech to a business audience with the dictionary definition of some word, as in "Webster’s defines ‘procrastination’ as…" etc?
You wouldn’t dream of it. The cliché to end all clichés, right?
Well, bad news. The "list" article is dead, too. I am declaring it dead with my very own list which, if we’re at all lucky, will be the very last one to appear on the Internet. Ever.
No. 10: It was a dumb idea when magazines did it to death 10 years ago. Now look where they are.
No. 9: You don’t really have 10 good ideas. You have maybe two, three at a stretch. Why push it?
No. 2 through No. 8: See reason No. 9.
(Drumroll, please…) And here’s No. 1: Way, way too many marketing people are dumping these list articles into social media.
See, I had one good idea: People should stop writing list articles. Their currency is shot, their meaning has vanished. Cliché.
So how should you organize a quick, snappy read for the Web that gets your great idea across? Well, you could write a list for yourself. Write down every single idea you have about a given topic.
Make it 20, 50, even 100. Brainstorming is a good thing. An even better thing is not sharing the brainstorming. Messy stuff.
Now take the one idea (just one!) that you truly care about and put it at the top of a blank page. And write.
Having tossed out dozens of "maybes" early, you can get excited about one idea. Excitement can easily turn into passion. The words will fly off your fingertips. Writing it will be fun, not a chore.
Readers sense that you care about an idea when you write simply, with passion. They get invested, and they tend to read. Really read.
You have their full attention. You win! Now stop. Get off the stage. Let readers move on with their busy days.
(Ahem, that’s all. Thanks for reading.)
Greg Brown owns Interactive Content Partners, a provider of custom publishing services and private label content. In a previous life, he wrote stuff about people and things for money. Not much has changed.