Why Short is So Sweet
Shakespeare said it best: brevity is the soul of wit.
But if Shakespeare were around today, he’d probably amend that statement and discuss the other reasons that short is sweet—paying special attention to the fact that abbreviated communications command the attention of the reader.
To quote Joe McCormack, author of Brief: Make A Bigger Impact by Saying Less, “Being brief is an essential 21st-century skill. . . . You can’t hold anyone’s attention if you’re not brief.”
This rule of thumb is especially vital in today’s world of company content. In the digital age, our attention spans are stretched thin—in fact, some studies cite the average attention span as clocking in at a mere eight seconds. It can be overwhelming to have a whole world of information available at the click of a mouse, and the all-too-human response is to manage content overload by scanning or speed-reading.
And we all know from experience that speed-reading does not usually equal full comprehension.
So it’s no wonder that our research finds that shorter content performs better. You can’t captivate your employees with long, convoluted communications, especially when there’s so much content out there that’s vying for your employees’ attention.
Learn how effective personalizing content in our last installment: Let’s Get Personal.
Here are some more startling stats for you: when people read a webpage that has 111 words or fewer, they tend to read about half of the text. But when faced with an average web page—one that has 593 words—they only pay attention to 28% of it.
And your goal, of course, is to have your employees pay attention to everything you’re saying. That’s why the pervasive wisdom in the world of communications is backing up Shakespeare and urging everyone to cut the fat and keep things short, concise, and to-the-point.
In a previous post, I discussed the fact that swapping out email correspondence and difficult-to-use intranet for a mobile platform is a must-do in today’s smartphone-obsessed world. But a platform update necessitates trimming back the word count of your communications—you can’t just take those multi-page, tedious emails or thousands of words of intranet chatter and put them on a shiny new platform. As the folks over at Entrepreneur point out, “As screens get smaller, we have to say more in fewer words.”
The reason for this is simple: a smaller screen equals more scrolling in order to get through big blocks of text. Finger fatigue aside, every necessary swiping motion is an opportunity for your employees to get distracted and tune out.
Minimizing word waste doesn’t just help you build a Shakespeare-caliber wit. It can also help build a healthy culture of communication…and ensure that your employees are absorbing your every word.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series, and download your copy of 6 Ways to Attract And Keep Your Employees’ Attention.