How to keep your reader’s attention

There are two issues with attention: grabbing it and then holding it…certainly holding it long enough to impart your message in a convincing way. There are multiple techniques already out there to keep the reader’s attention. Here are a few of my favourites:

1. What’s in it for me?
The best way to keep your reader involved with what you have to say is to give them what they want. To show the reader that your article matches their interest, you need to let them know what to expect in the first sentence—or better still, in the heading. If they see that it’s what they want, they’ll keep reading.

Try writing the heading from the reader’s point of view. Why will the story be interesting to them? How will they profit from reading your communication? Answer their question:

‘What’s in it for me?’

2. Choose content carefully
A little rule I rely on when I finish writing, or when editing another’s article, is to go back and ask of every statement ‘So what?’.

Does each sentence add something to the copy? Does it support your central message or argument? If not, then is it just an unnecessary distraction? What value is it contributing?

Remember, all of your content should be working towards persuading your audience to take an action. So keep to the point.

3. Talk benefits not features
Don’t just say ‘we sell seashells’. Say what your seashells will do to help your reader.

By focusing on benefits specific to your prospects’ business model you’ll demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of their requirements and give them confidence in your organisation. And make them want to know more.

4. Clear signposting
For writing a good article and keeping the reader’s attention, formatting is very important. Above all it should make the reading easy. Brilliant thoughts written in poor formatting can be as poor as worthless thoughts. So using descriptive subheads in your copy is a must. Subheads have two basic purposes:

  • To break down your copy into easily digestible segments
  • To capture the attention of those who quickly scan your copy to see if they’re interested

See, most of your readers, probably quickly scan copy to see if you’re talking about the results or benefits that they want. So make it easy for them to find what they are looking for.

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