Context


There is a balance between confusing your readers by not telling them enough and annoying them by being too heavy handed or repetitive.

When I shifted from working on air in radio to producing podcasts I had to make some adjustments. Much of my experience paid off in this new medium but one habit annoyed one of my listeners to a point that he contacted me.

In radio I never knew when someone was joining or leaving so I had to regularly remind them what station they were listening to and who I was interviewing. It’s like turning on a ball game and waiting to hear what the score is. The announcers have to reset the score regularly and recap the game so far for all of the fans that have just tuned in.

In a podcast the dynamic is different. My listeners have downloaded the podcast and probably aren't shifting to other podcasts and back. There's no need for me to re-introduce myself and the name of the show every fifteen minutes. They know what they are listening to. Resetting the context too often is annoying.

On the other hand, if you don't paint the proper picture then your audience is either confused or needs to do too much work on their own.

I was thinking of that this week when I checked my hotel reservation for Green Bay. The confirmation email listed the details about the room and the room rate. No where on the email was there any information on where the hotel was. This is a national chain and their email didn't include a phone number, a web site, or an address for the hotel.

Where do I go?

Fortunately, I had kept my notes from when I made the reservation. The hotel put too much work on the reader.

As you write your book you need to have new people review your work -- people who don't already know what you're talking about. These people can help you identify when you haven't given them enough information. They can also say to you "I get it already, stop saying the same thing."