Helping Readers Overcome Obstacles
Guide your audience through the battle to help them achieve their goals
When creating content, helping your audience overcome obstacles they may face will earn their trust. Anticipating what might stand in their way and identifying ways they can continue with the plan will encourage them to take your advice.
Remember the seven steps of story structure, as described by John Truby in The Anatomy of Story:
This post goes in-depth on the battle. In this step, the hero of the story—your audience—overcomes the opponent and achieves their goal.
Inform how to overcome obstacles
You’ve identified the problem your readers face (step 1) then explained what they want and why (step 2). Assuming you’ve used story structure to create your content, the third step, the opponent, addressed the barrier to their success (revisit the article if you need a reminder). This step was when you addressed their primary concerns, letting them know you know the struggle they are facing.
The step right before the battle is the plan (step 4); this is when you lay out what your reader will do to achieve their goal. The battle (step 5) is when your audience has to face down the opponent you’ve already identified. By the end, your reader will walk into the promised land, where the object of their desire lives.
How to get through the battle is where the audience needs your guidance. Don’t end after you’ve laid out the plan to succeed! Help them get past the obstacles that could stand in their way.
They want to achieve their goal, you want them to achieve their goal, and you want to provide them with all the tools in their toolkit to success.
This step is also where self-doubt can creep in. Why should your reader listen to you?
The battle step is when you inform your audience about the reasons you have behind the creation of your content. Use your expertise and call upon the experiences of your clients. Call in facts from scientific papers, and use other authors in a similar space.
Providing evidence will take care of two things:
- The reader will have proof that you’ve been there, that you are someone worth their attention.
- You will remember that you’ve put the time in and can point to your role in the success of others as a reason why your audience should listen to you.
Impostor syndrome, a specific feeling of self-doubt when you feel like you’re pretending to be an expert, is challenging to get past. But the fact you are showing up, willing, and ready to offer your expertise is appreciated by your audience.
Remember this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just be one step ahead of your audience and willing to reach a hand out to pull your reader up as well.
You’re worth listening to
By coming up with a plan in the first place, you have more knowledge than most. People are looking to you for guidance. By guiding your audience through the battle they will face, helping them overcome obstacles, you become an authority in whatever matter your content addresses.
I’ll leave you with an example, one that ties together the importance of the battle in your content. Hopefully, this will provide context to the above information.
Let’s say you are creating a piece of content to convince overweight individuals at risk of diabetes to walk.
- Problem: lack of exercise
- Desire: to move and therefore lose weight
- Opponent: motivation
- Plan: decide on an amount of time, decide on the frequency
- Battle: Get an accountability partner
Do you see how, in the example, the battle is when they fight their opponent, the lack of motivation, by getting an accountability partner? After this suggestion is a great time to mention how a previous client of yours (assuming this was your piece of content) found success when they checked in with their best friend. It establishes that you are an experienced guide and can lead them to the promised land.
Remember, readers will see the evidence you present about how they will be able to overcome obstacles and use that information to follow your plan. Over time, that reader base will grow, and you’ll be known as a trusted authority on the topic!