18 February 2016

Writing for the Lazy Brain

In today’s world of constant contact, we‘re confronted with over 27 million pieces of content a day! What’s more, we’re checking email 30 times an hour and our phones 150 times a day. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, our attention spans have decreased from 12 seconds to 8 — that’s one second less than a goldfish — giving rise to the lazy brain.

We’ve never been faced with more competition for attention than we are today. And this makes getting your message across even more difficult. Remember this when you’re communicating to employees — this is what you’re dealing with.

Breaking through the noise has become one of today’s biggest challenges and is often met with strategies such as increasing content in preferred communication vehicles or using new platforms or formats. However, studies show that this alone falls short in actually changing perceptions or motivating desired actions. In fact, only 21% of communication campaigns are likely to change employees’ perceptions.

So what are we to do? How do we capture attention in all the noise and hold it for 8 seconds?

We need to write to the audience and be advocates for readers. As reader advocates, our job is to make sure communications are simple and easy-to-understand. This means using common language, words the reader understands. Keep this in mind as you create your HR communications. Remember, employees only want to know three things:

  1. What is this about?
  2. How does it impact me?
  3. What do I have to do?

Start with “need to know,” move on to “nice to know” and finish with “benefit geek” (required legal language). By following this approach, you’ll break through the clutter, reach your employees and give them the information they need (and will read!).

Happy writing!