On the right words

No matter what anyone tells you, book covers and first impressions matter. We can nevertheless reframe their importance.

Last week I wrote a blog post I had titled What architects can learn from super heroes. It’s a reasonable post, perhaps not my best but certainly not my worst. Very few people read it. That wasn’t because it wasn’t good and they didn’t like it, it was because they didn’t even visit the post’s page in the first place. It’s likely that there are some people that had read previous posts of mine and simply aren’t interested in what I have to say and that’s fine. The issue is that those that might normally read what I have to say, or perhaps others that might come across it, weren’t interested enough to read further, attracted either by the title or the intro summary. There’s no way of knowing from that if it was a good post or not.

One lesson here is that we can try to be clever. To look clever. To offer up something that may infer kudos on us in some way shape or form but if we don’t do so in a way that engages or resonates with our intended audience it will fall flat. It is best to be clear over clever every time. Learning from super heroes was a case of clever over clear.

The more important lesson is to understand that it is impossible to be all things to all people. By trying to dress something up in a way that is designed to appeal to everyone, it will often appeal to no-one. The key is to be specific. To consider your audience and talk, dress or present for them in a way that is specific to them. Be clear about who your intended audience is and address them in a way that will resonate and engage them. If others don’t understand or criticise, it doesn’t matter, it was not intended for them.

Covers matter. Titles and heading matter. First impressions matter. These are the things that bring your audience in and encourage them to join you or engage in your work. Finding the right words, covers or dress that resonates and draws your audience in matters. They act as a filter, attracting those that the work is intended for and repelling those that it’s not. And that’s a good thing.

what to do with this post that had a title that failed to resonate and speak to my intended audience? I still think the post has value to people and I’d like it to be read more widely. Clearly I need to rethink how the words in my title.

I consider everything I do as iterative. I posit something, put it out into the world and wait for the feedback – in whatever form that arrives. In this case the feedback was very few clicks. So I’ll iterate. I’ll entirely rethink and rewrite the title and the intro summary and send it out into the world again. It will take a little more thought and it might even take a few tries. No matter how it pans out, I’m going to be fascinated with what I learn.

Footnote: I agonised over the title of this post and the intro summary. The irony of it all was not lost on me. I had settled on the catch phrase that has been used from chefs to scientists and beyond “Then naked blog post…” and then recalled what I had written, be clear over clever. The title is now stripped back and clear. It’s always an experiment.

Image by Jimmy Chan on Pexels [edited]

Hi! I’m Michael

I’m an architect and coach. I help architects rethink their practice and support them as they uncover better ways to work. I’ve worked in architecture for over 25 years, and I ran my own practice for 14 years. I understand architectural practice from the inside out. Fun Fact: my NSW architect’s registration is #10 007 and I have a license to skill.

I believe improving practice takes asking hard questions and deep listening.

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