This is the #1 thing more important than how “readable” your work is

As a student, I remember feeling like it was impossible to have to remember 8 classes worth of 45 minutes of information, then go home and do homework on it all.

But that’s nothing compared to now.

As an adult in this age of sound bites and information overload it seems even less possible to remember everything that comes at me in one day.

But there is one thing different to being an adult than being a schoolgirl…

For one thing, I’m rarely forced to listen to or absorb information I don’t want to listen to or absorb.

If I don’t have to remember it, I won’t. If I have to remember, it but it’s not particularly interesting to me, there’s an app on my cellphone conveniently located in my pocket at all times.

But what does this have to do with green businesses or environmental organizations?

In fact, I already said the answer.

I don’t have to remember information that I don’t find interesting.

I can’t take credit for this idea but I completely geeked out when I found it in The Happiness Project. Stunt nonfiction author Gretchen Rubin wrote,

When researchers tried to figure out what helped third- and fourth-graders remember what they read, they found that the students’ interest in a passage was far more important than the “readability” of the passage– thirty times more important.

This one-sentence really resonated with me, and not just because I have a third-grader of my own.

In the past I’ve always thought readability is incredibly important for science writing that’s meant for the public.

In fact, I can sometimes feel like a broken record when I implore my clients to mold their scientific ideas into information the average person can apply to their own life. In essence, I’m trying to make it more readable.

But… What if I’ve been wrong? What if the more important thing is something even harder for you to achieve?

Finding readers for your website that are deeply interested in what you have to say isn’t easy. But if that’s 30 times more important to memory-retention for elementary school kids, then it’s important for adults too, and even more important for your green business.

Readability aside, there are some slick and powerful ways to achieve this today.

Self-select your readers with content marketing.

This is perhaps the best way to find readers that are interested (and therefore will remember) what you say.

The best way to make sure the right visitors get to your website is to ensure that you are getting your website to the right people.

No longer do people type your keywords in a search engine and end up on your website. There is a long, complicated courting process that takes place. Invest in this courtship. Lead them to you.

Have genuine enthusiasm for your own product.

This isn’t something you can fake. The joy you might feel for this particular scientific discovery, environmental campaign, or new green product is an undercurrent of how you present yourself.

Most people who work for environmental organizations are passionate about their work. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in the stresses of day to day life and before we know it, the thrill is gone.

Somewhere, deep down, do you remember the little zing you felt when you decided to devote your brain to the environment? Resurrect that passion, and keep it at the surface.

Be authentic, imperfect, and precise

With so many environmental organizations out there, and every business now touting some aspect of being green, it’s pretty easy to get swallowed up and silenced by the big guys.

Be proud of what makes you unique, and then shamelessly promote it. This includes mistakes you’ve made, internal problems (especially when you can highlight how you fixed it) and indulgences that make your business authentic.

Then, put it all in a soundbite. Social media is a friend to spreading the environmental word. Use it.

Find yourself a super-villain and make yourself the natural super-hero.

Although it’s counter-intuitive, you wouldn’t be you without a villain. Writers have used this technique to great advantage for centuries, elevating the average Joe to superhero, simply to fight the bad guy.

Many, many environmental organizations use bad news as an incredibly successful rallying cry after the political elections. Find your villain, write about how you’re fighting back, and you can’t help but interest your readers.

The Road Ahead

There are many other ways to spark interest in your work.

And as someone who translates scientific information I won’t stop trying to impart the importance of readability.

But, I will admit that reading an interesting subject is definitely something everyone enjoys. Make sure what you put out there is interesting, and someone is bound to remember you.

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