Communicating is about connecting

When writing for any technical audience, it’s important to think about the audience as a real, breathing person. They may be reading your sales brochure or proposal for its informational content, but they are still human and need more than seductive ad words. To communicate an idea effectively, you have to connect with the reader first. Building rapport is key in any relationship, but it’s trickier to accomplish in printed communication. To make your case, whether you want to sell a technology or discuss a process that works better than others, you need to connect.

This means stepping out from behind the computer and making real face-to-face connections. It might be called networking, but I prefer to think of it as getting to know someone. This takes time, energy, and doing what doesn’t come naturally to most writers (myself included!).

Only then, when you have met this person or group of people, can you start writing. And even then, you have to understand where the reader is coming from. This requires asking several questions as you write:

  • Who is the person I’m talking to?
  • What is their main priority in reading what I give them?
  • How can I make their task as a reader and also as a customer/project manager/end user easier?

The reader may be a staff person at a facility tasked with looking for new employee training modules. What kind of information can you give him to make the decision easier? What are the challenges that he faces in making this decision? What are his concerns? And how can you address these concerns, either through good information (meaning a bit of research and factual data) or by interviewing a credible source, such as an expert at a nonprofit organization?

By addressing your audience’s immediate concerns and needs, you can make the connection.