Thursday October 1st, 2015

Nobody’s reading your stuff…

A Bold Statement

The first day of my former CMO's tenure, he boldly announced to my entire department the following statement.

"In this department, we will communicate a certain way. And if you learn nothing from me, you will learn this… and carry it through the rest of your career. It will change your life."

I mentally rolled my eyes. However, as we put his communication techniques into practice, in a short time, I realized he was right – it changed my life forever.

Note to Reader: If I wrote this blog correctly, you should be able to absorb it in under a minute. (Which is good, since you probably have more important things to do.) Also, this information may not be new to you… but very few employ it.

It's not them, it's YOU!

Written communication is ineffective.

The problem – We all have a lot to say and no one has time to read it. Therefore, we have to change how we deliver our message, not beat our co-workers and customers in the head with a wall of text.

RETENTION is the goal… not to be overly detailed and/or grammatically correct. We must deliver our message so readers can:

  1. Get the gist at a glance
  2. Find information that is important to them
  3. Know what to do next

 

How do we do this?

 
Do
Do Not
Result
Reduce Words

Be concise - Use as few words as possible.

Repeat yourself or use superfluous words.

Less for the reader to sift through.

Group Ideas

Headings and Subheadings – Break ideas into chunks.

Go back and forth between main ideas.

Allows the reader to find information important to him/her.

Graphic Elements

Use bullet lists, charts, graphs, illustrations, etc.

Create a wall of text.

Easier to remember lists and to grasp quantifiable information.

Tell the reader what you want them to do.

Give clear direction, next steps, or an expected action.

Leave the reader wondering what's next.

Get the reaction you want.

When to use it?

Typical writing structure is great, BUT it is ineffective in getting messages across quickly.

Use this technique for any writing that requires quick absorption:

  • Emails
  • Website copy
  • Blog posts
  • Sales literature
  • Advertising layout
  • Etc.

Long form writing has its place, especially where a lot of technical information or detail is required. This technique of writing for fast consumption can point readers, who desire more detailed information, in the right direction. Traditional sentence and paragraph structure is very effective in telling stories that require the reader to be actively engaged in order to absorb subtle detail and character development. However, the reality is, our business partners and consumers are often multi-tasking or only looking for the bits of information that impact their lives.

So, in order to be a more effective communicator, we must play to the audience and help them receive our message. I am sure that those who believe this form of quick-consumption writing as pandering to our attention-deficit plagued society – and I don't disagree. However, I'm sure they will miss the fact that I may not disagree with them because they will have most likely skipped over this part of my blog, thus proving my point that communicating ideas is difficult in the modern world, so you have got to adjust in order to get what you want.

Credits

The technique I describe is derived from a writing system called Information Mapping®. The outline I gave is based off of my own individual learning; however, you may find their information helpful.

I do not work for Information Mapping, endorse, or get any kind of compensation from this company. I do find that you can get most of their concepts without even taking a course.

To see how it works, take their quick demo and see how this technique really helps retention! 

Sam Brubaker,

Director, Strategic Marketing & Accounts

Connect on Linkedin