I don’t mean gratuities (though my friends in the restaurant industry love those, too). I mean advice or insights, usually presented as a list, that help people accomplish something. Weight-loss tips, job-search tips, gardening tips—the topics are endless.
When done well, tips work because they break daunting tasks into simple steps. They’re a road map; follow the tips, and you’ll reach your goal.
But as with any successful tactic, tips can be overplayed. Search “helpful tips” online, and you’ll get more than 150 million hits—everything from dealing with lactose intolerance to housecleaning tips for lazy people.
Tips are a great tool for communicating with and engaging people, especially around overwhelming or complex topics. The key is to make sure they aren’t overused. To that end, here are three tips for creating tips:
Be relevant. You wouldn’t send a group of vegans a guide for grilling burgers. Likewise, the tips you assemble have to be something to which your audience relates. That means knowing your audience and what engages them.
Be meaningful. Not only must tips be relatable to the audience, they need to be usable. Too many communicators rely on tips as merely a gimmick to hook people. That might work, but if done without strategic thought you risk losing those people. Use tips as you would any tool—apply them if they’re the best way to connect your audience to your message, and eschew them if they aren’t.
Be succinct. So … who’s up for slogging through 75 tips for a healthier summer? My guess is, not many of us. In this era of ever-shrinking attention spans, it’s better to focus on a few tips that are the most important, even if that means leaving out a few good ones.
Tips are fun and useful in communication. Let’s be sure we use them effectively, not endlessly.