16 June 2017

Keep It Short and Simple

Attention spans are shrinking. We’ve gone from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the past couple years! Long gone are the days of reading something cover to cover at your leisure.

Today, you’ve got mere seconds to cut through the noise and grab your audience’s attention and get them reading. So keep it short and simple by following these tips:

  • Think USA Today not Wall Street Journal. Don’t be a novelist. Use bite size pieces of information. Take advantage of subheads to break up long copy.
  • Omit needless words. If readers have to diagram sentences to figure out what you’re saying, you’ve failed. Aim for 14 words per sentence.
  • Avoid third person (employee, retiree, he and she). Write directly to your audience by using “you” and “your” instead.
  • Use active language. Passive writing confuses readers and weakens the message. In active language, the actor comes before the action.

PASSIVE: SPDs were distributed by the benefits department on January 1.
ACTIVE: The benefits department distributed SPDs on January 1.

PASSIVE: Your biometrics should be measured every year.
ACTIVE: (Implied you) Measure your biometrics every year.