Engaging email lessons from a boring professor

He knew so much, but nobody wanted to listen to him.

An award winning artist who once traveled the world studying just about every culture you can imagine. He’d done more in his life than the vast majority of people you’ll ever meet.

How could he be the most boring professor I ever had?

His lectures were dry, full of complex technical terms, and presented with a monotone hum that made it hard to stay awake.

He didn’t tell his stories.

A life so full of interesting moments and he defaulted to sharing information without intrigue.

That’s how a lot of newsletters read.

Dry facts, lists of links, and no personality.

You know at least one. It might have good info but you don’t think about it the rest of the week. The only reason it’s in your inbox is for data delivery.

Make your newsletter come alive with story

Incorporating story into your newsletter will:

  • Keep your readers engaged
  • Help you feel more genuine and relatable.
  • Make your content more memorable

In a world filled with so many distractions and information, it’s hard to check all three of those boxes. So let’s look at a few ways you can spice up your content with stories:

Keep the end in mind

A good story starts in one place and ends in another.

Focus in on the point you want to make at the end and cut out anything that doesn’t help you get there. Just like I did with the opening story you just read.

I left out how that professor would show up late most of the time, what he looked like, how old he was, etc. None of that helped get us to this point.

Even links can be stories

A story doesn’t need to be a long monologue. Even links can be a story.

For example:

Here’s an article that inspired me this week


He found success by helping others find it

Sure, those 8 words aren’t a “story”, but there’s a story there. It’s much more likely to make you want to click.

You’re not boring

I tend to compare what’s happened in my life with those world traveling adventurers we see everywhere online.

Compared to them… I guess I am pretty boring.

But how relatable are their stories?

I don’t know about you but I’ve never been hiking through frozen tundra, surrounded by polar bears with only the clothes on my back and a dull knife to protect myself.

They get your imagination going, sure. Relatable though…?

Every time I do laundry, I lose at least one sock.

I can’t remember the last time I had a complete pair.

Now that’s relatable.

As Eve Arnold put it:

“The best stories I’ve read this year were about the most mundane of things, one was about a bakery, one about a bathroom.”

Your next step

Try putting some story into your next newsletter. Even if it’s just changing up one link.

Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Take a point you want to make and think of a story that connects to it.
  • Share a link to something you read and explain what it did for you.
  • Hint at a story in your subject line.

Most importantly, never call yourself boring again.

Written by Kyle Adams

I work at ConvertKit helping top creators every day and bring what I know about growing your email list to Creator Glue every week.