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By Jennigay Coetzer

Every article should have an objective behind it, it should focus on a clearly defined topic, and it should be written with a specific audience in mind. Otherwise, you are likely to end up with too many ideas in your article, which will confuse your audience, and writing it will be a major challenge.

Once you have established these basics, put yourself in the audience’s shoes and think about what they would be interested to know about the topic, as opposed to just what you want to tell them.

It is worth remembering that your audience may be made up of people that have varying social and educational backgrounds, perceptions, cultures, and levels of understanding of the topic you are writing about.

Some may also have a limited vocabulary and grasp of the English language. This is  particularly applicable with an article you are planning to publish on a website, because anyone could stumble across it while searching for information.

It is therefore wise to write the article in plain English with the lowest possible common denominator of the audience in mind, and not use unexplained terminology or assume any prior knowledge of the topic.

Have a conversation with the reader, making sure you haven’t left any questions in their minds, because if you do this will frustrate them, and they will not enjoy your article. To test this out, once you have written your article, apply the So what? technique.

Read the article through and ask “So what?” after each sentence and make sure you have answered this question in the next sentence or two.

Jennigay-whitecliffs-5Jennigay Coetzer is a freelance business and technology journalist with 25 years experience, and she writes regularly for Business Day. Email Jennigay at jennigay@icon.co.za for more information about her upcoming writing skills workshops or connect with her on LinkedIn. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not?, a guide to writing press releases, can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za. Jennigay can also be contacted on +27-83-212-5754. Plenty more writing tips can be found on her website.


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