The Six Rules of Effective Communication: Rule Five

Clear Communication - Structure

We’ve spent the last one, two, three, four blogs cov­er­ing Hake’s six key rules to clear­er, more effec­tive and engag­ing copy. This week we’re look­ing at:

Rule Number Five: Get the Structure Right

Hire A Way With Words for all of your con­tent cre­ation and copy­writ­ing needs, that you don’t realise you have yet. 

Come again? Too many of us jump straight into the sell, jar­gon and nit­ty-grit­ty before our audi­ence has had a chance to take off their shoes and tell you how many sug­ars they take. The wrong struc­ture can derail an oth­er­wise clear, effec­tive and engag­ing piece of con­tent — turn­ing the audi­ence away immediately. 

But Where Do I Begin?

Some peo­ple get so het up about struc­ture, that they spend hours typ­ing and retyp­ing the open­ing sen­tence. Chill it. Your audi­ence isn’t going to see your struc­ture until you’ve hit send, pub­lish or print. Get every­thing in your mind down onto the paper and then, hope­ful­ly, your struc­ture will start form and flow. 

We Have a Block

If your words are com­ing but your struc­ture isn’t flow­ing, fol­low one of these tried and test­ed for­mats to sat­is­fy your audi­ence and give you a break. 


Peo­ple want to know what’s in it for them:

  • Hook them with an atten­tion-grab­bing headline;
  • Start with the impor­tants (who, what, where and when);
  • Fol­low­ing with oth­er need-to-know infor­ma­tion and quotes;
  • Add the before-you-gos; and
  • Fin­ish with the nice-to-knows.

Use a pre­sen­ta­tion style to:

  • Tell your audi­ence what you are going to tell them;#
  • Tell them
  • Tell them what you told them; and
  • Con­clude with a call to action

So they real­ly under­stand.

Are you sitting comfortably

Once upon a time, we were look­ing to change things. We were doing these things but one day anoth­er thing hap­pened, which meant that we had to start doing things dif­fer­ent­ly. When we start­ed doing these new things, we realised this oth­er thing, which made us think dif­fer­ent­ly about the things and then final­ly, this new thing hap­pened, because of all the things. And the point of the sto­ry: things. If your con­tent falls into a chrono­log­i­cal order, tell it like a story. 

Breaking the rules

And there I was — sprawled on the floor, my ankle half-hang­ing off and an angry Russ­ian shout­ing at me.

You don’t know where this has come from but you sure as hell want to know where it’s going. Some­times, ignor­ing the rules of struc­ture and jump­ing straight to dessert makes copy all the more inter­est­ing, intrigu­ing and fun. Play around with it. 

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