How Can I Get My Point Across? 3 principles for writing so others “get” your message instantly

We all have ideas we want to share with others. But getting our point across is often tricky. 

I believe the litmus test of a great explanation is whether it can be understood at a glance. Can I just sweep my eyes over the text and instantly get the point? 

I have found 3 principles to be especially useful for clarifying my written messages:

  1. Bullet-summarize
  2. Anchor with a twist
  3. Make it visual

1. Bullet-summarize

A bullet summary is your message’s core points compacted into a bullet list. We may add extra text underneath each bullet to elaborate. But boiling everything down to its core points will make your message stick. 

Example – Bullet summary of this post 

  • You want to get your point across
  • Solution? Write so others understand at a glance
  • How?:
    • Bullet-summarize
    • Anchor with a twist
    • Make it visual

Doesn’t that make the point clearer? 

2. Anchor with a twist

Anchor with a twist is a method for making complex ideas simple. This is how it works: 

  1. Find a similar concept your audience is already familiar with (the ‘anchor’) 
  2. Then, explain how your new concept is different (the ‘twist’)

Example:
Q: What is a pomelo?
A: A supersized, yellow-green grapefruit. 

In this example, ‘grapefruit’ is the anchor. 

‘Supersized’ and ‘yellow-green’ then act as the twist – letting you know that a pomelo is much bigger and more greenish than a grapefruit. 

By using grapefruit as an anchor, I didn’t have to explain that a pomelo grows on trees, what shape it is, or how it tastes like. Just one word – grapefruit – was enough to communicate all this and more. 

3. Make it visual

We humans understand things we can see. If you can make your message visual, it is always going to be 10x clearer compared to words. 

I explained this blog post in words. But I could also just summarize it with this illustration:

While this image isn’t perfect, my message certainly becomes more concrete with an image than without it.

 

The next time you need to get your point across in writing, ask yourself:

“How can I explain my message as a:

  • Bullet list?
  • Anchor and twist?
  • Image?”

When your message is bullet-summarized, simple, and visual, your point has a better chance of being understood with just a glance.

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