Email newsletters offer a way for subject-matter experts to share their insights with people who genuinely want to know more about a topic. If you're the expert, it can sometimes be challenging to convey your insights, in all their complexity, to the average reader. This is why it really pays to become skilled at communicating complex information effectively.
Few of your followers will be as expert as you are on the topic on which you are commenting, and most will be time-poor. You will be competing against many other claims on their attention. Moreover, your followers might not all be native English speakers.
To help you master this trickiest of skills – and straight from our team of expert editors – here are some tips to help you communicate complex information effectively.
1. Be concise.
Using as fewer words as possible is key to communicating complex information effectively. We wrote about the value of keeping things concise in our very first blog post on how to write a good email newsletter. Though your subscribers want to hear from you, they don’t want to have to hunt through a long email newsletter to find what interests them.
Recognising that your followers may not be able to devote as much time to your email newsletters as you would ideally like is half the battle. Pare down your introductory messages to the most compelling words and phrases to draw your audience in.
2. Avoid jargon.
Always remember that your reader will likely not be as expert on your topic as you are. As the newsletter author, it’s your responsibility to communicate complex information and your substantial expertise to your audience in language they understand.
Steer clear of jargon altogether. If it’s unavoidable, use clear terms to explain your meaning shortly afterward. You will not lose followers by avoiding jargon, defining potentially unfamiliar terms and reiterating contextual information, but you may gain some.
3. Tell a story.
More and more, storytelling is becoming a critical skill for content writers to master. At Scriber, we have learned that our most compelling content tells a clear story, often with a personal angle.
Perhaps you have travelled to the country or have used the product about which you are writing. Don’t be afraid of the personal touch – adding personality to your writing is a great way to engage your readers.
4. Use hyperlinks
Hyperlinks are a writer’s best friend. They allow you to signpost your own content within an email newsletter, or provide readers with additional, external information that is relevant to your topic.
They also allow your audience to choose (or not) to delve deeper into background articles, explainers, videos and other related material.
Plus, it’s far easier to link to existing content than trying to re-write it all over again. Just don’t over do it.
5. Use relevant images and charts
Another tip from our first blog post on how to write a good newsletter is the effective use of imagery and charts. Complex information can often be communicated very powerfully in chart form. Visualising your data sets not only make that data easier to understand, but also give the reader welcome relief when scrolling through large blocks of text.
Likewise, high-quality imagery can also illustrate your points and help break up a sea of intimidating text in written content. But don't go overboard – keep your images relevant and of a consistently high quality. Online image repositories like Unsplash or Pixabay are a great way to get started with free imagery.
Looking for a good way to visualise your data? Try Datawrapper.
6. Use sub-headings and bulleted lists
A key part of communicating complex information effectively is to make sure your writing is easy to read. Break up long and complex text passages with sub-headings and lists wherever you can. They can help you make your points more clearly and make it easier for diverted readers to return to a half-consumed piece.
This is also a great way to make your newsletter more mobile friendly, and easier to skim-read (for subscribers that don’t have enough time to read your newsletter top to bottom) as discussed in our earlier blog post.
7. Return to your key points.
When communicating complex information, repetition can be a powerful tool. Reiterating your key points throughout the piece can be especially useful to consumers of content on mobile, where screen real estate is smaller, attention spans can be shorter and competition for that attention more intense.
Do you have your own tips? Let us know.
If you have your own tips on communicating complex information effectively, let us know at email@example.com and we’ll add the best ones to this blog post.