Friday, January 22, 2010

Structure Your Writing Using the 4MAT System

When you're writing to present information, it's tempting to jump right in and start presenting your facts and information. However, that doesn't engage the reader. Unless they are very interested in your topic, it's unlikely that facts alone will keep them reading.

Instead, use the "4MAT system", based on research by Bernice McCarthy into different learning styles, to present your material in a more engaging way. Some professional speakers, trainers and seminar presenters learn this system as a way of presenting their material. It applies equally well to writing.

The 4MAT System breaks down your writing into five steps:
  1. Point - You state your main point or purpose in one sentence.
  2. Why - Tell the reader why they should read on (in other words, describe the benefits of your writing)
  3. What - Tell them the main points
  4. How - Describe a process for putting your ideas into action
  5. What Next - Tell them the specific action steps
It's called the "4MAT System" because of the four main questions you ask (Why? What? How? What Next ...?). I've added "Point" to the start of the list because it's useful to state your main point before launching into the other steps.

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