Who this guide is for
This guide has been designed to help you if you’re writing content:
- For a target audience that doesn’t have an interest in your subject
- On a subject people need to read about rather than choose to read about
- On something that’s been written about so many times, it’s become tired and boring.
It’s important to remember that what’s considered dull is subjective.
While something might not be interesting to you, it could be fascinating to your target audience.
1. Use the right tone
Getting the tone right is vital for captivating and engaging your audience.
Using a tone that’s too formal, or overly professional, can be a real snoozefest.
So think in terms of a conversation rather than a dissertation and add some personality.
2. Talk directly to your readers
I’m talking to you.
Address your reader using the word ‘you’, so they know you’re talking directly to them.
Speaking to someone directly is a good way to keep them interested in what you have to say.
3. Use questions
Asking questions is a great way to make your readers feel involved.
Starting with a question is a good way to gain your readers’ interest and draw them in.
And have you ever had one of those imaginary conversations?
The ones when the other person isn’t there, so you have to make up their side of the conversation too?
You can use this technique in your writing to keep your reader interested.
When you get to a part when you think your reader might have a question, ask their question for them, then answer it.
Is this end of the questions section?
It certainly is.
See what I did there?
Of course you did!
4. Make it relatable
Your readers should be able to relate your content to their job or personal situation, so you need to show that you know and understand them.
What questions are they asking?
What problems are they struggling with?
What information do they need access to?
What would make their life easier or better?
5. Set them a scene
You’ve been sitting alone at your laptop for the last hour.
The only sounds are the whirring of the fridge and the constant ticking of the kitchen clock.
The blinking cursor at the top of the page is begging you to start typing.
But your mind has gone blank. You don’t know where to start.
Your mouth is dry. Your chest feels tight. Your palms are sweating.
And the ticking clock gets louder and louder as the deadline moves closer.
Scene-setting is designed to paint a picture in your readers’ minds and transport them somewhere else.
For those brief few moments they’ll be completely immersed in the scene you’ve set and will forget they’re reading your content.
When they come back, they should be focused and ready to read more.
The scene could be anything as long as it’s relevant to what you’re talking about and has a specific purpose in delivering your message.
6. Tell them a story
Most people enjoy a good story, so storytelling can be a really effective way to get your message across.
A story can be compelling, entertaining, inspiring and memorable in ways that are difficult to achieve using standard copy.
In many ways, a marketing story is no different to a traditional story. It has a central character your reader can relate to. It shows a struggle or conflict this character is experiencing. And it has an ending, in which the character either wins or loses — your choice.
The story format can breathe life into your case studies* and work wonders when introducing a new or complex idea.
*Hint: Your character should always win in your case studies.
8. Use a metaphor
If your subject is so boring and overdone that a straightforward description won’t cut it, you might consider using a metaphor.
A metaphor is something that is used to represent or symbolise something else.
Using a metaphor, you can reimagine your dull subject as something more interesting that works to explain the same concept.
Let’s say you’re writing about slow wi-fi speeds. It’s relatable and frustrating, but also dull and tired.
So you could reimagine the wi-fi as Wiley Filey: the slowest teacher the world has ever known. Every few minutes he stops to buffer and his eyes turn into spinning pinwheels. It takes him so long to deliver his lessons that his students give up and go to the library.
Or as the Wini Fiji: the world’s slowest car. Gives you the experience of sitting in a traffic jam, even when there’s no other traffic. Pedal to the floor and still no faster than a walking pace. Overtaken by cyclists and mobility scooters alike.
9. Look for a different angle
You can make a subject less dull by flipping it on its head and looking at it from a different perspective.
Let’s say, for example, you’re talking about keeping your bathroom clean. The perpetual struggle is relatable but, for most people, the subject is boring.
Instead of looking at it from the perspective of the frustrated person cleaning, focus on the germs themselves and make them your main characters.
Where do they lurk?
What conditions do they thrive in?
How is the bathroom owner making them happy?
What do they fear most? (What kills them?)
10. Don’t just tell them — show them
Techniques like scene-setting and storytelling are great for writing about dull subjects, but they might not always be appropriate.
In these cases you can use show, don’t tell.
Telling your reader sounds like this:
The customer was angry.
Showing your reader sounds like this:
The customer inhaled deeply. His brow furrowed. His face reddened. And his knuckles turned white as he balled his hands into fists.
See how much more menacing the customer was in the second description?
That’s the power of showing versus telling.
Need more help?
I’m a copy and content writer, helping businesses to communicate their messages more clearly and creatively.
If you need to communicate a tired or boring subject to your audience and would like someone to do that for you, why not get in touch.