Getting And Keeping Attention

Business man and woman discussing something

What is the one thing that almost all writers, communicators or website publishers would love to have? Of course, would we ever not want more readers, listeners, viewers or visitors? Yet the modern pace of life tends to encourage a short attention span.

Often, we just don't seem to want to focus on a topic for long — the threat of boredom is ever present. Of course, we can blame a variety or causes: television, the "rat race" approach to life and living today, general fatigue, shiny-object syndrome, and so on.

However as a group who desire to improve how we communicate, I suggest we first embrace current reality, not fight or deny what affects our outcomes.

We can simply work with "short attention span syndrome", then explore new, better ways to share our message.

For some readers, listeners, watchers, or visitors, we can work out how to provide a better light than the one that is currently capturing their attention.

Tips, Techniques, Ideas, And Strategies That Can Enable You To Help Your Readers And Visitors Stay Engaged With What You Have To Say

Often, the central aim of any communication is to urge or persuade as many of your targeted audience as possible to focus on your piece and to then respond or react in a specific way.

To do that, you can simply "talk" (or write) in ways that make sense to most of your target readers. How?

Consider the following guidelines:

  • Remember relevance. If your reader, visitor, or viewer knows in advance what the general topic is going to be about, you can pre-screen interested parties. 
  • Write as you would speak. Then modify a little to add some "writer's panache".
  • Shock and surprise are two powerful tools that you can use. However, think through how you use them with great care. Done well, shock and surprise can almost singlehandedly help you achieve your core goal. Done badly, and nothing else you do can help recover from the damage done. Just making a "shock-and-awe" noise with words will almost certainly backfire.
  • Keep your writing simple whenever possible and appropriate for what you're seeking to do.
  • However, write or communicate in a way that is relevant and suitable to your audience. If you're communicating to the general public on a popular theme, you'll use one approach. If you're addressing business owners, you'll want to use a different approach. If you're writing for a university group, your topic will most likely benefit by having more meat, thought, and depth of coverage.
  • Insert the most important content at the start of your piece.
  • Write, speak or present your message concisely whenever possible. While excess waffle wasts time and causes reader yawns, by all means be engaging! Write creatively and controversially if that's your beat. Evoke the senses and emotions; seduce and guide your reader and build suspense if your writing will benefit. Just don't ramble on and play with overly complex words and sentence structures, when simple, short and sweet informative chunks get your point across more quickly.
  • Write logically. Then weave in (illogical) surprises if that approach seems beneficial.
  • Relaxself-confidence shows in your writing or speaking. If you're not having fun, or you're not "in the flow", your readers can sense this in the broad sweep of your "thoughts on paper".
  • Have fun — ditto. Yes, some things are worth repeating.
  • Be careful with humor. Why: what you may think is funny may be seen as offensive to someone else. Unless you want to offend, cultivate an empathy for the other person's situation. Have consideration for others and think through your flow through before writing a single word (or as you're writing, re-write as required). Humor "gone wrong" has a way of coming back to haunt you. Irrespective of any government legislation, the web could conceivably "remember everything", even deleted content.
  • One way you can improve your writing quickly is to apply the following simple rule: resist the urge to write in a "literary" style, unless this approach makes sense for your goal. Usually, to write in a "literary" language of yesterday is a really bad idea, especially if you're using irrelevant Latin phrases that most people do not understand or care about.
  • However, there is one exception: if you're writing a document for use in the legal profession, or a similar field, verbose wordiness may be unavoidable, and even perhaps be deliberately cultivated and celebrated. Then, such a choice may make perfect sense — at least from the perspective of a lawyer.

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