February 13th, 2007 - by Golgotha

Blogging may not be the same as giving a speech, but the fundamentals remain. You still have an audience you’re trying to reach and therefore should follow the age old principles.

In this article we look at tried and true principles of public speaking and apply them to blog writing.

Public speaking 101 teaches these key elements of successful speaking:

  • Tell ‘Em What You’re Gonna Tell ‘Em
  • Tell ‘Em
  • Tell ‘Em What You Told ‘Em

The Opening – Tell ‘Em What You’re Gonna Tell ‘Em

The opening is where you, “tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em” and it’s always the most important element of writing an article, giving a speech or even blogging. In fact, as I’ll explain later, it’s even more important in blog writing. The opening is where you get a chance to hook your audience and peak their interest in what you have to say. If you can’t gain the interest of your audience, then the rest won’t matter.

A crucial ingredient of the opening that often gets overlooked is what I call “setup.” Setup is the part where you set the stage for your audience and clearly state what it is you’re about to share and why they should care. A good setup will help to prepare your audience for the lesson and provide them an easier time following along. Setup sounds real easy to do, but it’s actually where most people fail.

I learned the value of setup while teaching computer classes for five years. I also learned just how hard it is to always remember to do. What can happen at times, whether teaching in a classroom or through a blog, is you find yourself so excited to share this ‘thing’ with your audience that you forget to set things up. You speed right past the setup hurrying to get to the punch line where you give them the big ‘reveal.’

Like someone trying to explain the punch line of a joke that was butchered, they didn’t get it. You’re then left thinking, “why can’t these people see how cool this is?” The reason all too often is because you didn’t set it up. You didn’t tell them what it was they were about to learn and how they would benefit from knowing it. You simply showed them the end result and assumed they could figure it out for themselves. If you’re teaching in a classroom you can go back and try again, re-establishing a setup. If you’re blogging, you’re screwed. They didn’t get it and they’re gone.

As I said earlier, the opening is even more critical in blog writing. In a blog, what you may find with a longer post is that only the first paragraph is shown and then you have to click a link to continue reading the rest of the article. Also, today many people use RSS readers to get their daily information. Typically, in an RSS reader you may only get a blurb about the article, usually the first paragraph, and then based off that paragraph the reader may or may not choose to continue reading.

So we can see the value of having a good opening. Once you’ve gained the interest of your audience and made them comfortable for the ride they are about it take, it’s time to, “tell ‘em.”

The Body – Tell ‘Em

This is the main body of your post; it’s where you “tell ‘em” what it is you want them to know. This will be the bulk of your post and it’s where you deliver your key points.

If you’re teaching a lesson then this is where you find yourself explaining the symptoms of the problem, why it’s a problem and provide possible solutions. It’s helpful to include illustrations and/or code with your solution. A nice image or chart can speak volumes.

Once you have delivered the bulk of your lesson it’s time to wrap things up.

The Closing – Tell ‘Em What You Told ‘Em

You’ve just delivered your lesson, now what? This is where you “tell ‘em what you told them.” Take this time to summarize your message and reemphasize your key points.

Once you have delivered the opening, middle, and closing of your post you’re still not done. You still have one more key element of successful blog writing, the title.

The Title – A Blog’s Best Friend

Don’t overlook the title of your post; it could mean the difference of your article being read or skipped.

Keep in mind this is more than just the title of the post, it’s also the title of the page. Most blogging apps such as WordPress use the title of the post for the title tag in the heading too.

So when selecting a page title it should be catchy, but also loaded with keywords. You need to think about the search engines and what people will be searching for when selecting a title.

You also need to consider social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Digg. Social bookmarking is extremely popular right now. The title of the post is typically what is seen in these social bookmarking sites.

Which of these titles do you think would garnish more Diggs? “Some Blogging Advice” or “Top Ten Things You Can Do To Get Blogged”?

Before selecting a title for your post, write down half a dozen – rework a few and then select the best one.

In Conclusion

With an understanding of the age old principles of public speaking – Tell ‘Em What You’re Gonna Tell ‘Em, Tell ‘Em, Tell ‘Em What You Told ‘Em – your blog post will have a greater chance of successfully being read.

3 Responses to “How To Write A Better Blog”

1 ses5909

This was also how I learned to write the standard 5-paragraph essay. The three middle paragraphs were the guts and the summary.. well summarized what i already said and the intro introduced it. amazing!

2 TOMAS

Very nice writeup! I think the subject line has been the biggest problem I’ve had so far when it comes to blogging. The SEO world dictates that simplicity and keywords seem to have the best impact, but that sometimes zaps the creativity and personality out of the post. Sometimes, I just write the entire post then extract a subject line from it. As for the body of the post itself, I’ve found that the shorter and more concise, the better… that is unless the post is extremely intriguing and requires length and breadth.

3 vinnie

Stop, you’re giving me flashbacks to 4th grade standardized writing tests! 🙂

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