What I write for employee newsletters and other content often involves explaining dense, complicated and potentially boring subjects. Yet a client once paid me this huge compliment: that among my strengths is the “ability to find the human angle in any story.”
In fact, that’s the secret to turning a potentially boring subject into an interesting one: Find the human. Typically, that’s where the story lies.
Here are some of the questions I use to “find the human” when interviewing the company’s experts on the subject:
- What do you want readers to remember about this subject after reading the article?
- What’s in it for readers (benefits, advantages)?
- What’s important for readers to know?
- Who was involved in this effort?
- How does it affect people?
- What made you decide to…? / What were you thinking when…?
- How would you explain this to your teenage son/mother/grandfather?
- Can you give me an example?
- Can you give me some perspective on what this means to the company/to employees/to customers?
I almost always finish with this question:
- Is there anything else we haven’t talked about that would be important for employees to know about the subject?
…which is typically answered (1) no, (2) with reinforcement of the key points or (3) with one of the best quotable quotes from the entire interview.
In most cases, people are happy to talk about people. And readers are happy to read about people.
How do you tease out the human angle in your writing?
I talk more about this approach in Boring topic? 3 secrets to spin straw into gold