While bicycling on Cape Cod during the “off” season, I was struck by how polite the motorists were to cyclists. Not only did cars stop before bicycle trail crossings, but they halted several lengths back. That’s way more polite than Boston drivers where the Charles River bike path crosses roads. In Boston, I stop my bike for cars, not vice versa.
I started to worry about Cape Codders biking in Boston. However, as long as they don’t assume that Bostonians are as bicycle-friendly as residents of the Cape, they’ll be okay. Adapting to local conditions is essential.
What this means for writers
When you write, you should adapt to the knowledge level of your readers. If you write for the general public the same way you write for your fellow financial professionals, you risk losing them. Using plain English rather than technical jargon helps.
What about when you write for an audience that’s more sophisticated? Sure, you can use some technical language. However, you can still gain from using plain English. For example, knowledge levels vary widely if you’re addressing members of an investment committee or 401(k) plan sponsors.
For tips on how to please audiences at different levels, see “How to make one quarterly letter fit clients at different levels of sophistication.”
Remember those Cape Cod cyclists? If they approach Cape Cod road crossings as cautiously as they should approach Boston crossings, they’re likely to have fewer close calls with cars.
Susan Weiner, CFA, is the author of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, which is tailored to financial planners, wealth managers, investment managers, and the marketing and communications staff that supports them. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter, Google+ or the Investment Writing Facebook page.
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