Offbeat

How to Lecture on Anything and Everything | Writing a How To Guide



Tired of being told how to do things? Well, this is the last “How to…” guide you will ever read before you start telling the world how to do things your way. You can spread your wisdom, or your ignorance, (doesn’t really matter which) and people all the world over will praise you for creating thumb rules for “How to have a mistress without anyone knowing”, or for putting down guidelines in “How to run a country (without anyone knowing)”. You can be a working class hero with “How to make a cheese sandwich” or you can be immortalized by “How to avoid your Mother-in-law”. For seriously, much wisdom can be had from “How to…” scripts, and some of them, I have heard, can even be life changing. So here is the mother of all “How to…” guides, the secret you all knew existed, but never could grasp (somewhat like The Matrix; only more sinister). The 5 easy, and obviously life changing, steps for you:

1. Get a catchy title: Title is very important. As you can see, I have got one, and suggested a few others. You can work with your own, but be clear in your head about your target audience. For example, I’m writing this guide keeping in mind the entire intelligence spectrum of the human brain. Doesn’t matter where you feature in the scheme of things, you can always write a “How to…” guide.

2. Say something like “n Easy Steps”: This will make your reader stick to the guide, and actually read the entire concoction (for a change). Readers are fickle minded, and they expect you to deliver on that cheese sandwich you promised. Don’t make it too big. “How to…” guides are supposed to be the epitome of efficiency and effectiveness. Small, precise and damn useful!

You might be a baby at mind, but if you follow these simple steps, you can look like a know-all Einstein!

3. The body: What does one write in the guide? (assuming you have decided to practise with “How to Survive a Family Gathering” in 11 easy steps) Here I shall propagate what I call “The Theory of Knowing”. Simply put, one doesn’t have to actually know about something to talk/speak/lecture/write articles about it. All you need to know is that the person in front of you doesn’t know what you are talking/speaking/writing articles about. Your safety lies in his or her ignorance. Given that, you can do whatever you like. For example, I know that you don’t know how to write a “How to…” guide. Hence proved. So whenever you get stuck at some point manufacturing something off the top of your head, ask yourself, “I know that I don’t know, but do they know that I don’t know?” Having said this, knowing actually helps a lot. You may be tempted to try it sometime. Please do.

4. Promise the moon and deliver the stars, not the other way round: This is a very important strategy. You should undercut your “How to…” title just a bit, so that the reader is impressed by the content, and will definitely come back to read whatever (non)sense you decide to spew next. You should also come across as a man of the world and appear well informed (even if you are not, refer #3).

5. And finally, NEVER read other “How to…” guides: I don’t. I haven’t. Ever. (If this isn’t sufficient) think of it this way: you are telling people how to do things your way, possibly, the only way. Doesn’t look good if it transpires that you are actually not-so-competent at something else. To them, you are the prime, the alpha, the numero uno. The man who gave them “How to read a newspaper when your wife is sitting beside you”. You get the drift.


About the author

Saswata

To be, or not to be: that's the question

2 Comments

Leave a Reply