They say perception is reality. What reality do your readers perceive?
Today’s Blog post was supposed to be a video showing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of our process for delivering over 1,000 pieces of EzineArticles gear (aka “shwag”) every single month – similar to the one we did in May. Sadly, we decided to nix that video. Somewhere between concept and execution, the video went slightly awry and we ended up with a piece that was less about shwag and more about the dangers of misperception.
The plan for the video was to show you what it takes to deliver those highly-coveted EzineArticles promotional items to our top-performing authors. We decided to go with an off-the-cuff, light-hearted style in order to make the video both entertaining and informative. I hosted the video as usual and we got the whole thing shot and edited together in only a few hours.
It wasn’t until after the video was complete that we spotted several issues with perception. Things that we thought were funny, or added a secondary layer of meaning, came off as insulting and/or disrespectful. One reference to our Promotional Items Coordinator sounded like an insult when it was actually a term of endearment. An allusion to the exotic scent of a returned package seemed to say that people from that country smelled bad. And my playful attitude with the shwag gave the impression that it was cheap and worthless rather than fun and useful.
My Point Regarding Articles: Despite your best intentions, what your reader is gleaning from your article is often much different than the reality of what you meant for them to perceive. Their personal perspective, upbringing, cultural values and more can have a huge impact on how your material is perceived.
7 Tips to Avoiding Misperception:
- Don’t assume everybody thinks the same way you do. Write with an awareness of the subtle, yet profound, impact the reader imparts on the articles you’ve written.
- Recognize that readers may not understand your style of presentation. The people reading your articles often aren’t your friends, relatives, coworkers or associates. They don’t know the real you, so they don’t hear the article in your voice and style. Ideally, have somebody that doesn’t know you very well proofread your articles.
- Remember, humor is relative. What’s funny to you may actually be insulting to your reader. Was being a jerk your intent? Or were you simply trying to make them laugh?
- Accept the fact that all readers arrive with emotional baggage. We are all products of our own life experiences. Sad but true. Be sensitive to the fact that your readers may be bringing some powerful emotional baggage to the reading experience.
- Keep your perceptions to yourself. Perception is transferable. If you’re writing for a company or a product, be aware that the reader’s opinion of you will probably be transferred to your company or product. So any negativity you build into your article will get transferred to those people and items associated with your article.
- Keep in mind that your articles have an international audience. While it’s true that the world is becoming more homogeneous everyday, there are still profound cultural and spiritual differences between us that can profoundly affect how your articles are perceived.
- Choose your words carefully. Words have power. So when you’re trying to pick the perfect word in an article, think about both the literal meaning and the inferred meaning of that word before making a decision.
Sometimes things turn out differently than we expect. For example, sometimes a totally innocent idea can blow up in our face – like the shwag video did for us. However, as a result, we gave birth to a blog post on a topic we’ve never covered before … which is infinitely more valuable than the shwag video ever could have been.
Leave a comment and tell us about your run-ins with misperception. What did you learn from the experience?