Life skills
Published in

Life skills

This Writing “Formula” Stirs Intense Passion In Your Audience…

No, It’s Not A Shallow List Article

Sometimes life gives you gifts, little moments of magic in your day that you never expect. Yesterday, as I drove home from doing whatever, I put on a podcast. I looked at the summary before I put it on. I was a bit put off by the length.

“An hour and a half. With this guy, really?”

“If it sucks I can always put on some music.”

I put on the podcast at double speed. I would give it fifteen minutes. If it bores me, I turn it off.

What did I think?

This podcast floored me. I hung on every syllable. (Podcast link is at end of this article)

Sometimes we come across a book, podcast or article that connects with us. It feels like the writer or speaker talks directly to us. It feels like they know us better than we know ourselves.

Yes, what connects with me may not connect with you. We all have different passions and life stories.

Stories that connect share common threads. What if we could replicate those threads with our own writing? Could we create better connections with our audience?

We can. I examined my favorite writers and stories and found repeating themes.

Let’s dive in.


Before you connect, you must build engagement. Your audience needs to dig in. Engagement invests them in your story. These three techniques appear most in these stories.


Reveal something about yourself that most others keep secret. Most people who faced drug addiction in their past avoid making the details public.

A successful business man or woman arrested for shoplifting as a teenager prefers to keep that to themselves. The more embarrassing the admission, the more it interests us. The revealing nature of the podcast made it interesting.


Shocking experiences draw us in because of the incongruent nature. Things that do not fit in neatly with our reality create curiosity. Curiosity leads to anticipation. We need to see how it all plays out. We crave closure.


Controversy polarizes people. It creates fans or haters. How do we create controversy? You have two options.

First, take a stand on an issue that polarizes people. Abortion, welfare, civil rights, LGBT are the obvious political issues.

If you appeal to a narrower audience you can find polarizing topics within your field. Within the finance industry, you can take a controversial view on an investment practice or disclosure rule.

The general public may not care about those issues but those deep within the industry do.

The second option is to take a contrarian view on an issue. Go against a prevailing view. A headline that demands an all out ground war to wipe out terrorist defies most common wisdom. It takes a contrarian view and creates controversy.

A word of warning

Your use of controversy must be authentic. Your audience sniffs out fake controversy and your reputation suffers. The use of fake controversy runs rampant in clickbait articles.

Revealing, shocking and controversy draws us in. They build our interest. They begin the process of connection. Engagement alone, however, fails to create that connection you seek.


Without a struggle, your story feels hollow. Your audience faces struggles. We need to hear about your struggle. How did it make you feel? What did it do to you emotionally? What did you do to overcome it? When you reveal your struggle, you bring yourself down to our level.

“Wow. She faced the same struggle as me. If she can do it, then I can do it too!”

Hiding your struggle gives your audience the impression that you hold some superior power they can never replicate. It puts you out of touch.


Sometimes we read a great book or article and marvel at the insight. It gets our juices flowing. We jump up and down with eager anticipation to put it into action. Then, we get down to business and yell:

“Now what?”


“This is great, but how do I make use of it?”

Always wrap up with a well thought out lesson and a concrete action the reader can take. Sometimes you need to condense your work into a digestible bite. Other times, a summary will do. Here’s how I wrap up this article:

The Connection Checklist

Your story should focus on one of the three connection builders:

  1. Revealing
  2. Shocking
  3. Controversy

To build the connection, include:

  1. Your struggle
  2. A lesson and concrete action

Link to podcast referenced earlier

James Altucher Show — Scott Steindorff

>>Get My Free Persuasion Bullet Writing Guide Here<<




Real-world skills for adults

Recommended from Medium

I’m 74 years old.

Alaa Bin Kuwair Medium

The 3 Best Practices of Prolific Content Creators

What Should We Do When Our Own Writing Lets Us Down?

A grey sky, backlit by the sun illuminates, in the foreground, a seed-covered dandelion, as well as a stalk left by a dandelion whose seeds have been blown away. In the background, trees and clouds.

I’m Taking Jeff Goins’ 500 Word 31-Day Challenge. And So Should You.

Today’s The Start Of NaNoWriMo

Your character has a choice to make

Twinkles on ice (bottling creativity) (Archived)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Barry Davret

Barry Davret

Work in Forge | Elemental | BI | GMP | Others | Contact: barry@barry-davret dot com. Join Medium for full access:

More from Medium

If You Dream Big, You’ll Give Up

10 Lessons From Being A Freelance Writer For Ten Years

Why You Should Write in a Sports Bar

Your Work Won’t Appeal To Everyone. Here’s Why.