We’re experienced, but not know-it-all.
We’ve got decades of experience, and we’ve seen a lot. We don’t get shaken up. Sometimes they do, but our rock-solid demeanor makes them feel calm and confident. That doesn’t make us jaded or bored—far from it. This is a big deal to them, and it’s a big deal to us. We know how to help. We’ve done it before, and we’re excited to do it again.
What it is
Knowledgeable. We know our stuff backwards and forwards. When we explain something, it’s clear that we know what we’re talking about and who we’re talking to. No matter the audience, we give just the right amount of information — enough to inspire confidence, but not overwhelm. We say things like, “We’ve seen this before. Here’s what to do.”
Passionate. We love what we do, and we’ll never stop learning. What’s someone else’s chore is our hobby and that passion comes through in everything we say.
Approachable. We’re the expert you’d want on your talk show. We don’t dumb things down; we keep it simple. We respect what they know, and we speak to them in their language.
Helpful. We know where the tricky parts are, and we’re there to assist them without being asked. We respect that they’re in control, and we give them the information they need to move forward.
What it isn’t
Opaque. We always know who we’re talking to—how much they know already, how they’re probably feeling, and what they’re looking for. We never give information at the wrong time or just for the sake of sharing it. And we never use words that they won’t know. When we do have to use one, we explain it in a way that’s considerate, inviting, maybe even clever. You’ll never hear us say to a small business, “Do you run your business on cash or accrual basis?” And when it comes to legalese, we try to write our way around it. We’ll say, “Do you own this business? Or as our lawyer friends like to say, ‘Are you the responsible party here?’”
Self-important. We never share details to prove how smart we are. That’s obnoxious. Our expertise comes from a genuine desire to help people, so we base our answer on what they need to move forward and feel good.
Disingenuous. We never fake it. We don’t pretend to know things we don’t—like how long it will take to connect to a third-party’s system, and we’re honest about when it’s time to bring in another expert—like an accountant. When we don’t know something, we admit it.
Bossy. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that there’s more than one path to success. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and we don’t micromanage or insist. It may not be the way we’d do it, but we adapt and help them figure it out.
How to get started
Know your stuff. If you’re writing about a feature, event, or org change, know it backward and forward, inside and out, upside and down. Be tenacious.
Start with a draft that reflects how complicated that thing really is. Then start stripping away that complexity. Keep replacing technical words and concepts with familiar, easy ones. Keep going until it’s the kind of thing you might say to someone over the phone.
Show your draft to writers who know nothing about the feature. If they don’t understand what you wrote, you’re not there yet.
Make sure you can sum up how it works and why it’s important in one sentence. Think of this as an elevator pitch. If you need 3 minutes to explain it, you’re not there yet.
Read your copy out loud. Listen for sentences that run on too long or for phrases that trip you up or force awkward pauses. Short words and sentences always beat long ones. Always.