What’s Your Point?

It’s tough being the youngest in a household of six. Sure I was the baby of the family, but it wasn’t always easy getting my voice heard.

I remember one time in particular when I ran home from school with a great story to tell the rest of my siblings. I guess I wasn’t being as direct as one of my brothers wanted me to be (who could blame me… I was seven years old), so he interrupted me with an irritated sigh and said, “So what’s your point?”

What’s my point? You didn’t even let me get to the punch line at the end! But looking back, I can see that my brother was just preparing me for communicating with the masses in this age of instant information.

attention span comicAccording to statistic brain, the average person’s attention span is eight seconds (thanks to the internet). That’s one second less than a goldfish! The data is actually from 2012, so the human attention span could be even lower now.

That’s why in internal and external communications, it’s so important to reveal what matters to your audience within the first few seconds. Get to the point and stop dancing around the issue.

I’m not going to list a number of ways to help you accomplish this because there’s only one rule of thumb: write messages that you want your viewers to read as if they will only read the first two sentences (because chances are they will be).

Don’t forget about the eight-second attention span.

That means in the first sentences of a newsletter or press release, the main point should be already made. That means creating a real e-mail slug line and not using such generic titles like “Update” or, even worse, “Untitled”.

You may not think it’s a big deal; but trust me — your colleagues, employees, and/or general public will thank you for saving their time!

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources
governmentresource.com

5 responses

  1. Reminded me of the Klondike commercial where the husband is listening (painfully) to his wife telling him a story. It’s funny, but true. Get to the point! Thanks Hope .

    1. HAHA! I’ve seen that commercial before.

      A lot of people think short attention spans are only for husbands or millennials, but it applies to everyone.

      Thanks, Andy!

  2. This reminds me of the expectation set by my college professor. He said that the point of any presentation or display should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer. I wonder if the statistics about average attention span factor in that there is just so much more to pay attention to, and people are simply filtering what really interests them. I find that people can focus on something they believe important or find enchanting (nod to Guy Kawasaki) but that is often just a small portion of everything a person is exposed to all day. For all those people who can’t dive deep into the topic because it doesn’t seem important or captivating, it is indeed wise for the reader to get to the point. There are lots of casual observers of the message.

    1. That’s very true. Anybody can pay attention to what they find interesting. The real challenge is grabbing the attention of people who normally wouldn’t care about the topic.

      Short attention spans are now mostly attributed to the internet. There are billions of websites and people are constantly flooded with information. Web surfers had to learn how to start weeding out what they don’t want within seconds, and then they translate that to the real world.

      That’s why effective communication is SO important these days. Thanks for your comment, Joseph!

  3. […] I’ll keep this post short and sweet because there’s no point in rambling about it. That would go against everything I believe in. (Remember Keep it Simple and What’s Your Point?) […]

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