An economy of words: the secret to preventing eyes from glazing over

Have you ever asked someone a simple question and received a long, drawn-out answer? Did you feel your eyes glaze over at about 20 seconds in?

Perhaps you’ve opened an email and decided not to read it because it was too long. How many social media videos do you watch to the end? 

Written and spoken word are different in many ways, and visuals are another factor in grabbing and keeping your audience’s attention. Regardless, you need to relay your message succinctly, while still using descriptors and storytelling to paint a picture.

According to a British study, on average, consumers switch screens 21 times per hour, and Microsoft estimates that our attention span is only eight seconds.

Like any resource, you want to get the most value out using the least amount. Think about which words will resonate with your audience the most and cut the fluff. Here are a couple examples... 

Example #1: cut from 67 to 52 words

(also note how the structure is easier to read)

We source a number of ingredients for our fresh made-to-order fare from local sources, and offer a number of convenient ways to dine. If you're looking for a fast and casual option, order a selection of favorite dishes on UberEATS. Plan a group dining experience with our event coordinator if you're in the mood to party! Make a reservation in our dining room for a romantic dinner.

Our made-to-order fare is prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. 3 convenient ways to dine in:

  • Looking for a fast and casual option? Order your favorite dishes on UberEATS.
  • In the mood to party? Plan a group dining experience with our event coordinator.
  • Romantic dinner? Make a reservation in our dining room.

 

Example #2: cut from 90 to 67 words

We take pride in providing the best possible automotive repair at affordable prices. We perform alignments, brake repairs, factory recommend maintenance, timing belt replacement, and just about everything in between. Our courteous and professional staff has dedicated their life-long career(s) to provide you with the best possible automotive care. We understand that your car is a very large investment and we are dedicated to helping ensure maximum life out of your automobile. We look forward to the privilege of providing for all of your automotive needs at Riverside Import Auto.

Our courteous, professional, and experienced staff take pride in providing you the best possible automotive repair at affordable prices. We perform alignments, brake repairs, factory recommend maintenance, timing belt replacement, and just about everything in between. Your car is a large investment. We are dedicated to help ensure you maximize its life. At Riverside Import Auto, we look forward to the privilege of fulfilling your automotive needs.

 

How do you know where to cut?

Look out for:

  • Passive voice

  • Redundancies

  • Unnecessary points

Short and simple is always better, and of course, remember to be audience-focused and benefit-led.

If you’re in or around Seattle, stop by Practice Your Pitch for advice on how to tighten up your messaging! Click on the image below to learn more about this free event series hosted by coach and consultant Christina Brennan of 3C Comms in partnership with ProDev Seattle:

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