Engage your audience with a clear viewpoint and a little personality

When you put pen to paper for your first op-ed column it’s natural to want to be liked. First tries are often not about writing for a particular audience, but any audience at all.

Wanting to appeal to as many people as possible is understandable, but it’s also a dead giveaway. Inexperienced columnists attempt to reach a wide audience by toning down their opinion, planting their flag in the crowded middle ground.

A more effective strategy would be to engage an active readership with a forthright opinion and clear focus. Use your opinion to give people something to talk about. Don’t be afraid to be a little provocative, but remember a little provocation goes a long way. Keep contributions constructive, especially in the public domain.

When you write an op-ed you’re offering up a personal opinion, so be personable. Real people and conversational words are far more likely to build a following than faceless doublespeak recited in a corporate voice.

Share your experience with personal examples that show a little – just a little – of yourself. A bit of personality goes a long way in building reader engagement and making your writing really sound like you.

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© Stuart Matthews Editorial