We live in a time poor, information overloaded world. That means your readers are information overloaded, time poor too.
That makes time (and energy, and attention) a big potential barrier to engaging your readers.
It also means you can use time to your advantage by showing your readers that you respect, and value, their time.
Here’s a rapid fire, 60 second guide to how you can do just that:
Write With Reading In Mind
- make the time to make it short: the investment you make will save your readers time
- use plain English, reducing barriers to understanding
- help your readers to skim and scan your work, with paragraph breaks and headings
- use lists and bullet points to help your readers grap your material quickly
- edit for basic grammar mistakes that interupt the reading flow
- stick to one font and colour to avoid visual distraction
- edit your work for stumbling blocks – sections that are hard to read quickly
- cut out excess words
- write to ‘you’ – it’ll save your readers time wondering who you’re writing for!
- start where your readers are at – it’ll help them get into the flow quickly
- structure your work: create a path from the beginning through to the end
- go for short words, short sentences, short paragraphs
- keep it simple and keep looking for ways to simplify
- if in doubt, cut it out
Write With Blog Readers In Mind
- use really short paragraphs – they’ll help your readers whizz through your work
- make it quick and easy to comment and provide feedback (ditch the catchpa!)
- turn off the partial feeds: why should readers spend another few seconds clicking through?
- break big ideas up into a series of posts – it’s easier and quicker to digest
- provide links to useful and interesting material, not junk and distractions
- keep to one unifying idea per post or article, to make it easier to absorb
- vary your format – some short posts, some long – to stop your readers glazing over
- monitor your page load time – slow page load means less time to read
- break up your text with photos and visuals
- leave white space – it speeds up the reading process
- get clear on the size and shape of container before you start – your readers will stick with you if the piece matches their expectations
Write Something Worth Taking The Time To Read
- share something of yourself – it’ll make your readers want to slow down and read more
- write from your unique perspective – why waste readers’ time with the same old same old?
- smile when you write: it doesn’t take you any more time, but it warms up your writing
- write like a human being – it’s still rare enough that readers will slow down to read it
Remember: less is more. Respect your readers’ time and you’ll earn their respect as a writer… which means they’ll soon be back for more.