Adjust your communications to match attention spans

funny notePeople’s attention spans are shorter than ever before. We are constantly bombarded with messages from every corner, have no time to read long emails, and we have a rough time holding onto a business related conversation that doesn’t seem to have a point.

As a millennial, I have friends that use acronyms for everything. Raised on outlandishly detailed books by Charles Dickens, I have a rough time understanding these little quips. The first time I saw “ROFL,” I was thinking about barking waffles, but “rolling on floor laughing” is better. I guess. At any rate, I learned these little things to communicate with my friends and not be boring. This carries over into business, in a sense. We must adjust our content to people’s attention spans.

You don’t have to go so far with this as to be unprofessional in your communications, but you do have to shorten your message and get to the point. Cut the clutter, cut out anyone who doesn’t need to hear what you are saying, and give the person on the other end a more direct and conversational approach that they can easily digest.

Here’s a few tips to get you started in your business communications:

1. Be personable

This automatically makes you approachable and well-received. It doesn’t have to be outlandish. Use little remarks like “I hope you had a great weekend,” or “thank you for getting in touch.”

2. Use an easy to follow structure with headlines and bullet points

Don’t make your reader sift through your information. Breaking up information into palatable chunks helps people absorb content without getting distracted by the many other things demanding attention.

3. CCs

Don’t copy people on emails unless they must know the information contained in the email. I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes things can get out of hand. A conversation between two colleagues can go on for 20 emails, and their boss doesn’t need to be in on each one of those emails—only the first and last one.

4. Be precise

Save time by reading over your email or letter and making sure nothing has a double meaning, is too long-winded, or doesn’t get to the point. Is there a point? State your point first and your supporting information afterward in bite size portions.

Hopefully those tips will help you going forward. Being long-winded myself, I have to cut out my “babies”—my precious little details that nobody else cares about. Did it work? You’ll have to let me know next time you stop by the shop.

Published by

Danielle Apple

Danielle is head of our graphic design department. A self-proclaimed "sponge," she is addicted to learning about marketing and to eating chocolate.