If you grew up writing assignments in Microsoft Word, you’re probably familiar with the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Index, which measures how much education you need to understand a text. Clippy was obsessed with it, which turned Microsoft Word into a game of getting the highest reading level possible.
Turns out, the most popular storytellers on the list — Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, J.K. Rowling, Hunter S. Thompson, etc. — wrote for primary school level students.
This tells us something important: We love writers who make it as easy as possible to get lost in their stories. They break down the barrier between us and them. They write with as much fluency as possible.
Unfortunately, marketers struggle to do this.
The digital age has broken down the barriers between brands and consumers. But with bad content, brands often put that barrier right back up — through bad white papers, boring talking head videos, and jargon that just doesn’t make any sense.
That’s because many of the bad habits we develop in school carry over into the business world. The best content marketers do something different. They explain difficult to grasp concepts in a simple way.
But fluency isn’t just about the written word.
Fluency matters for video too
For whatever reason, way too many brands waste their time filming 20-minute clips of their boring CEOs talking in front of a camera. Not surprisingly, those videos get almost no engagement.
In an age in which we consume most brand video in-feed, fluency means capturing and holding someone’s attention in just a few seconds.
A few years ago, a neuromarketing firm called Neuro-Insight studied social video, and found a few keys to capturing attention: an early story-arc, the presence of people, topical content, and text or subtitles.
This type of fluency applies to all types of communication. Open with a story, don’t use jargon, and keep it simple.
Every time you tell a story, you’re competing for attention with the millions of other stories buzzing in your audience’s pocket. So don’t make your content feel like a chore — let it stand out on the timeline.