Even though many of us have more time on our hands now, not everybody wants to endure long, drawn-out content. And if you’re trying to catch the attention of businesses or individuals who now find themselves busier than ever, making speedy, informative content should be an essential part of your communications strategy. Here are five of the simplest ways to give short-form content the most bang for your buck.
- Keep your language simple. Metaphors, academic language and poetic adjectives have their place in some kinds of copy, but not when you’re trying to convey information quickly. Speak to your reader in plain English, using words we’d all use day-to-day, when you want to be understood. Hiding behind hyperbolic and grandiose (OTT and show-offish) language can make your content inaccessible for many. At best it will have people reaching for the dictionary and at worst, it could make people click or look away before you’ve imparted your wisdom. Make your content as clear and easy to navigate as you can. This isn’t the time for ambiguity or flexing your vocabulary.
- Break it down. It’s a command you might hear both on the dancefloor and when writing copy, but the importance of organising your content into manageable chunks can’t be overstated. Use shorter paragraphs to keep the reader’s attention throughout, and bullet points, lists and tables to lay out harder-to-digest statistics and information. A wall of text looks intimidating and boring to even the most enthusiastic readers. Find ways to give them breaks throughout the piece, even if it’s just a page long, and your audience will be much more likely to be drawn into your content.
- Front-load your content. Put the most important, interesting or thought-provoking points at the top of the page. Give people a highlights reel that still conveys the essence of the fuller piece. That way, if your reader only has two minutes, you’ve still told them about your event/news/birthday party. Even if they do have time to read on, keep the rest of the copy tight and easy-to-digest – don’t pack in unnecessary facts and figures when brevity is the order of the day.
- Pick facts and figures people can comprehend. We’ve written a longer piece on the problems of scale if you fancy getting into the science but, essentially, humans can’t easily comprehend massive numbers. Get people’s attention with stats they can relate to. For example, if your business has created 100 new jobs during the pandemic, or you’re organising 50 care packages per day for local NHS workers, these are figures worth shouting about. Use numbers that are small enough for us to feel the impact, and choose something that directly calls on our emotions. It will give your content a better chance of making an impact at a time when ‘business brags’ can feel a bit ‘so what’?
- Always put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Think about who your content is going to be read by and ask yourself exactly what they will be concerned about, or what they need to know. You probably want to shout from the rooftops that your business has had a record year. However, it will feel inappropriate and irrelevant if you’re writing an internal letter reassuring staff they’re going to keep their jobs through the COVID-19 crisis. What you want to say and what your audience need and want to hear are often very different things.
It all sounds simple, but it takes years of practice to create content that’s both quick to read and informative. If you want to speak to one of our experienced writers or account management team about getting your information out there fast, click here, or follow us on LinkedIn for more inspiration. Check out our blog for a wealth of other information too.
Read more of our Coronavirus content here:
Tone of voice in crisis communications- tips to get it right
Communicating in the dark – Crisis comms you can’t plan for
Best B2B Coronavirus content we’ve seen
The right words can make the world seem brighter