by Baldwin Berges - I wanted to dig a bit deeper into the part about keeping things simple from my last post How to Keep your Content Sharp. The point I aim to make with this post is that there is more value to write as a person rather than as an expert.
You don't need to prove to your readers that you are an expert. When people decided to read you, they already assumed you have something interesting to say. If you are writing under the pressure of having to impress your audience, your self-consciousness will reveal itself between the lines. The is nothing attractive about someone who is trying too hard.
When I write, I like to think that I am composing a letter to someone I know very well, someone who belongs to the audience I am trying to reach. I actually choose someone from the mailing list and write for that person. It's helps take the pressure off. My message becomes more genuine.
Some people will tell you that your writing should be conversational. This is good advice, but I prefer get into the mindset of a composing a personal letter because there is less room for rambling. In fact, I write my first draft in longhand. It helps me keep my message short and efficient.
The best advice always comes from your own personal experiences. To share your learning curve is valuable. Walk someone through the process of how you formed your opinions or even why you changed your mind about something and you are laying the foundations for a meaningful connection with your reader.
Now you may be wondering how to put this warm advice to work in the chilly, impersonal and formal world of finance. No matter what people tell me, I have been in the finance industry for over 20 years now and the best business I have done was always based on personal relationships of trust and respect. I am sure you will come to the same conclusion. At least that is what I hope for you.
The people in financial services are human. They can be as stressed out by the industry as you can be. Most people in this sector live in fear of making mistakes. They will be relieved to see that you are one of them and that you have learned a thing or two along the way by screwing up. They want to hear about it!
No matter how many boring research papers pile up in their inboxes, your personal message will somehow always find itself on top of that pile.
For example, if I wanted to convince someone that Egypt is a place worth investing in today, even though it has just come out of a revolution, I could go and provide all sorts of statistics, charts and rational arguments to support my favorable outlook for Egypt now.
I could also go and tell the story about how I wish I had invested in Indonesia just after the revolution in 1997. I could speak from my experience on this one because I was actively trading global markets when the Asian crisis happened. The headlines said very scary things about Indonesia's outlook, the same kind of things that you hear about Egypt today.
The point is that I learned a few valuable lessons back then. I understood that when something is set for major change, it is always worth making a small investment when the fires are still burning. I also learned that when something is called a revolution, it usually turns out to be a good thing. It may not always turn out to be a good investment but the odds are skewed to a positive outcome simply because markets always price in the worst case scenario.
Now, as the writer, you can either chose to play it safe by providing by adapting a neutral tone of a carefully balanced research paper for your reader to file away; or you can engage the reader on a deeper personal level with your story that puts the rational data in a more meaningful perspective. It won't only make the numbers, charts and graphs come alive, it will also tell your reader you really have something to say.
There is actually a lesson I can share with you today. I really wish I had shared more of my personal experience when I actually did compare the events in Egypt to what happened in Indonesia. I held back, I played it safe and was ignored. Egypt's market rallied by more than 40% shortly afterwards!
People like stories. We are wired to respond to them. Don't forget that mass literacy is less than a century old. For thousands of years before that, most people relied on stories simply because they couldn't read or write. What is even more interesting is that people are made to get stories through personal interaction, simply because there were hardly any broadcasting devices a lifetime ago!
Do you really believe that the brainy research paper can make that kind of connection on its own?
If you want to be an expert, its better to be the expert that people can relate to as a person. Remember, this is all about winning someone's attention and then keeping it. Get permission to do this every day and you will be able to share more expertise that you may be able to handle...
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About the author: Baldwin has been active as a business developer in the investment industry for more than 20 years. In 2008, he helped start up Silk Invest, a fund manager dedicated to the frontier markets. He was an early adapter of social media within the investment management industry. His efforts have helped position Silk Invest as one of the leading managers in the frontier space. In collaboration with Perfecta Partners, Baldwin also helps other financial services companies improve their content marketing and social media strategies. Baldwin can be reached [email protected] or on Twitter @BaldwinBerges