How To Make People Read Your Content

Heard the one about the pub test? Calm down, no one’s offering you a drink but it should definitely be on the menu every time you write a piece of content. Every. Single. Time.

It goes like this: You have something to sell. You want to tell people about it. But are they interested in what you have to say? Immediately? Can you sell your idea to them in a nutshell? A few words? Even just 8 seconds? Crucially, if you walked into a pub and told a group of strangers your story or described your product or your business in a sentence, would they ignore you, look at you with distrust OR sit up and take notice?

This is crucial. Did you know the average attention span of a human fell to 8 seconds in 2016, down from 12 seconds in 2000? Apparently goldfish have an attention span of 9.5 seconds, so it’s not looking good for you and your audience.

There’s so much going on around us, so much noise, stuff to read, podcasts, online articles, 24-hour news, minute-by-minute social media updates, the constant beep beep of WhatsApp messages that you’ve a battle on your hands getting anyone to hear you. The trick? Your story needs to be crystal clear and your messaging razor sharp.

Take this: ‘A study published in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry and carried out by scientists at Edinburgh University has found that…’

ZZZZZzzzzzzz. Sorry but you lost me somewhere around ‘journal’.

Try again. If you’d said: ‘Babies born with bigger heads grow up to be more intelligent’, well now you’ve got me. The details can come later, the Molecular Psychiatry bit, the Edinburgh blah blah, the general who, where, why etc. But the ‘big head’ bit sparked my interest. It’s visual. I know babies with big heads. Maybe my son has a big head. I’m curious about stuff that makes x cleverer than y. I want to know more. Why are they cleverer? You’ve got me. Bingo, pub test passed.

They key is to hit people with it in the first sentence. Don’t think you can give them a meandering lead up to your story, set the scene, build it up until you get to the main point because… hello? Hello? Where did they go? You guessed it, you lost them way back around the 8.3 second mark.

So remember it, use it and we’ll all be far more likely to last the distance when you next put a piece of content out there.

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