One ... Two ... Organize!
By Paul Krantz

I love the number three. This humble little numeral inspires my creativity, which is why I apply its power throughout the content creation process. For example:

For any content piece, no matter how complex, I limit myself to three main topics. This makes outlining and research easy. Readers also appreciate the ease of recalling three points rather than ten.
If I offer ideas or solutions, I include try to three so I have room for gray this black or white world.
By limiting myself to three of anything, I have to choose the best -- whether that means words for a title or sources for a topic.

Here's a three-step process for developing your own powerful communications.

1. Start with an outline
Before you begin, you will need at least the seed of an idea. Use quick preliminary research to create a simple outline. Refine your thoughts to three main points you would like to address. Distill your ideas further by crafting a three-word working title. Don't settle on your first or second attempt. Keep going until you have a title that sizzles and sells.

2. Do your research
Assemble as many sources as you can before winnowing them down to the very best three for each main point -- the most authoritative, relevant and up-to-date. Itemize everything you learn in your research; throw nothing away. When you are done, divide your research items into three information categories:

  • Ideas/Solutions - advice that most people would find useful, sound and practical
  • Analysis - evaluations supported by facts (research studies, expert reviews)
  • Opinion - ideas informed by personal experience
For each of your three main points, choose the best supporting items in each of the categories. For short content pieces, you may need only one item from each information category.

3. Write from your outline
Assemble all of your pieces -- working title, main points, research items -- and start writing. If you want to take a classic approach, organize each paragraph into a topic sentence, supporting statements and a summary closing statement. A less formal approach can also work, provided you stick to your outline. Many nonprofessional writers are successful because they trust the narrative they hear in their mind's ear. Whatever approach you take, look for opportunities to add eye-relief: Bold lead-ins, subheads, images, pull quotes and bullet lists help you create content that is easy to absorb.
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