Are You Forcing Your Audience To Multi-Task? Here’s How To Fix It
Multi-tasking seduces us. In the end, however, it disappoints us.
Let’s suppose you need to complete three tasks. You decide to multi-task to shorten the duration. Logic states you finish in one-third the time compared to working sequentially. If only it worked that way.
With three writing projects to finish, I thought I could carve out three times a day to work on each one. How did it work out?
I made no progress on any project. I never immersed myself enough to make a dent. Why did I think this time would be different? Maybe I suffer from an addiction to shortcuts.
I scrapped my multi-tasking fantasy. I put two of my projects off to the side. I am now laser focused on delivering that one project. One more editing pass and I’m done. It’s amazing what the power of focusing on one thing does to your output.
The Power Of Single Focus
That idea of one overriding focus also helps you in your persuasion efforts. Writing about one single idea keeps your audience engaged. When you force your audience to multi-task you demand they remember several different things.
Remembering one big idea is easy. Remembering several small ideas confuses us. We need to keep track. It requires more mental processing than understanding just a single idea.
Always keep in mind your goal of persuasive writing:
Hold the attention of your audience long enough to heighten their emotions and compel them to act.
Present them with multiple ideas and you force them to multi-task. In short, you test their reading comprehension.
If your nonfiction work packs the drama of a Game Of Thrones episode, then by all means weave intricate plot lines. For the rest of you, keep your pieces focused on a single theme. Even smart readers lack the patience to tie your various ideas together in a short essay.
Here’s the challenge:
Even when we plan on presenting one big idea, the urge to squeeze in a little extra creeps in. I struggle with this myself. In a recent analysis of one-hundred-thirty stories, I found that my best performers all zeroed in on one big idea.
How To Avoid Multi-Tasking Your Reader To Death
Before I edit, I write down my one big idea. I go through each paragraph and ask myself if it supports the one big idea of my story. I remove whatever fails that test. On a five-hundred word piece, it takes no more than five minutes.
The single biggest objection I get from other writers is this.
“What if I have something super important to add?”
I respond by asking what difference it makes if it only confuses your audience. By adding in that complexity you muddy both ideas and your reader loses the value of both.
If that extra info carries so much value, create a separate piece and make it your one big idea. Just like that, you create an extra piece of content without the burden of thinking up a new idea.
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