Failure to Fully Explain Exercises Before Presenting Them

One common error when people write is to simply present an exercise and a title (and sometimes without). The author who does this makes two mistakes: First, in overestimating how easy it will be to entice readers into doing the exercise. Second, in assuming the reader will deduce what the exercise is for. Readers are notoriously reluctant to try exercises.

They lack confidence in their own abilities, are certain that even if they do try an exercise, they will find it difficult and taxing. They are also reluctant to invest their time in any activity unless they know beforehand that there is something in it for them. In order to motivate readers to try the exercises you offer, you need to preface all exercises with a paragraph or several that put the carrot on the stick and make clear what is in it for them. Always address these four key issues before you present any exercise:

1. The problem or lack of ability it remedies.
2. The promise. How it will benefit the reader: How it solves the problem or what new skill it teaches.
3. How and why the exercise works. The premise or idea behind it. What makes it effective.
4. That it is easy to learn.

In a book on marketing, for example, you might have an exercise called: Coining “Sell Phrases” that would be introduced something like this: “Most people think they can not coin the same kind of dynamic, sizzling ‘sell phrases’ that advertising and marketing geniuses do. But they are wrong.

You can learn to produce the exact same kind of ‘sell phrases’ on demand, every time you need them. You already have the ability. If you are able to talk to other people so that they understand you, all you need to learn is a simple, six-step process for coining ‘sell phrases’ that draws on your own ability to use words.”