What was she trying to say?

I’m a sucker for email newsletters.

I already subscribe to more of them than is humanly possible to read, yet I keep subscribing because

  • I love the power of words, and good copyrighting is an art and skill that fascinates me.
  • They are samples and case studies for me: If you write an e-letter (as I do, with my monthly Ho‘ohana „¢) you know that you need to get better at cutting through the clutter everyone gets so that your message is the one they read.
  • Most of you are just too nice to tell me when my emails are less than concisely brilliant, and so I try to recognize my own mistakes (hopefully before I hit SEND) when I see someone else make them first. I’m a sponge for other people’s lessons learned.

And you just never know when something profound is going to catch my eye at the exact time I may need to read it.

For example, Friday before last I got one from Constant Contact, the folks that I use as my own email editor, called Break Through the Clutter, 3 Tips on Writing Email Copy. I just read it yesterday, but I did read it, and it was very well done.

The author started with a good story, (storytelling works!) then he shared these 3 tips:

1. Pick one idea. We tend to go from searching for content to complete overload.

2. Boil it down. Edit, simplify, and get to the heart of the matter.

3. Speak like a human being. Biz-Speak is unnatural and Marketing-Speak is annoying.

The italics are mine :-)

Good advice, and I got another take-away from this:

Works well when you are talking to those you manage and coach too. Does clutter and poor delivery get in the way of your message? When you’ve wrapped up your spiel, is everyone waiting for you to leave so they can ask each other exactly what you were talking about?

As we can be fond of [lovingly”] saying in our family, “Get to the point Gertrude.”

Hmmm” just noticed my intro was longer than my message ” does that count as the story-telling part? Well, an early announcement, okay warning, for you who do subscribe to my email updates: I’m about to send another one out sometime tomorrow…

Gertrude thinks practice makes perfect.

By the way, if you have my subscription bug too, Gmail is a great place to direct all your subscriptions too. I’ve got lots more Gmail invites if you want one, email me.

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  1. says

    If you are wondering, this was the story that Michael J. Katz shared in the article he wrote:
    “If you’re old enough to know your total cholesterol count off the top of your head (217), you may remember a man by the name of Jim Fixx.
    Fixx gained prominence in 1977 with the publication of his book, “The Complete Book of Running,” and is widely credited with single-handedly starting the jogging craze in this country. Unfortunately, Fixx died suddenly in 1984.
    Hearing what had happened, my Aunt Esther – a woman known for sometimes not quite getting her facts straight – gave me the news: “The guy who invented running died.”
    Admittedly, a bit of an oversimplification. However, with those six simple words she had captured the essence – if not the absolute factual truth – of the story. Before Fixx’s book came out, running around the neighborhood for exercise was not a common practice, and in many ways, he had “invented” running.
    I’m here to tell you that when it comes to effective communication with an audience, my Aunt Esther had it right – essence matters more than facts.
    How many times have you been forced to endure 85 slides worth of a speaker’s Power Point presentation, getting to the point where you start looking for a way to unobtrusively commit suicide? Invariably, the problem isn’t that the data is wrong or even lacking in value, it’s that it’s delivered in a way that is too detailed and too convoluted for the average human being to digest. You arrive eager to learn something, but the delivery itself gets in the way.”
    Then he goes into the 3 tips I gave you.
    I think his Aunt Esther knows Gertrude.