Perhaps more than ever before, you’re going to have to work hard to capture consumers’ attention. Some studies indicate that our attention span today is less than that of a goldfish. Whether in person, on the phone, or online, you’ve got but seconds to capture someone’s attention.
Use these eight tips to help you craft messaging that will capture attention:
1. Start with them.
Find a way to use the word “you” at least once. Do this very early. By speaking to consumers directly, using the word “you,” you’ll pull them into your messaging and allow them to feel a connection: Let’s talk. You’re identifying with them. Can you show you understand their struggles, fears, frustrations? If so, you’ll connect, increasing the likelihood they’ll continue to listen to you.
2. Use short sentences.
Online, you need to use short, powerful sentences. Push for the period sooner than later. Why? People don’t read, they scan.
Why use truncated sentences? Because they ...
George Orwell’s novel 1984 is about a man who fights the totalitarian power of government (i.e. Big Brother). The book begins with a short, powerful sentence: “He loved Big Brother.” A longer, complex sentence wouldn’t have packed the punch that this simple, four-word sentence does. Don’t be afraid to use short sentences. They’re crucial to your success in persuading others.
3. Ask a question.
Encourage your readers to pause, even slightly, and think. And if they’re thinking, they’re engaged. Try asking a question early on. It gets people to pause and think. Any successful attempts to get them to slow down will likely keep them engaged into the next sentence.
4. Use a shocking quote.
Howard Stern is often referred to as a shock jock, a reference to his willingness to say shocking things in his role as a radio host. He has a willingness to say just about anything about anyone. A shocking quote can arouse curiosity, but it has to have meaning and relevance to the audience. A shocking quote has the potential to capture attention or evoke emotion. And if you’re really successful, it’ll do both.
5. Share a statistic.
Toss out a mind-blowing statistic. For example, say you’re trying to persuade a potential client that email marketing is still effective. Try a statistic like this: Gmail alone has one billion users and it is expected to grow beyond three billion users this year.
6. Share a fact.
By definition, a fact is true. Sharing a fact makes your message credible. Just make sure the fact is powerful, relevant, and interesting. Sharing a fact may well also cause your reader to pause and ponder, and that’s a good thing.
7. Invite your reader to imagine.
Using the word “imagine” helps your audience form a mental picture of something that’s not present. And it also frees the mind to accept this reality with little evidence. You’re encouraging them to picture the situation in the way you want them to see it. This technique works because you set them free from the current circumstances.
Jeff Tippett is the author of the book “Unleashing Your Superpower: Why Persuasive Communication Is the Only Force You Will Ever Need” (Wisdom House Books Inc.). This article is adapted from it.