5 tips for keeping a client’s attention

According to scientists, a human’s attention span is 8.25 seconds. A goldfish’s is 9 seconds.

So, let me make my point quickly: Shorter is better.

When it comes to writing executive summaries, this hard truth can be a tremendous challenge. How can you reach – and connect with – your audience in such a small window of opportunity? At least goldfish are in a bowl; they’re not going anywhere, and if you don’t make your point fast enough you can catch them when they swim back by.

Not so with humans, and certainly not with potential clients.


To increase your opportunities for success, consider these five easy rules for writing that grabs people’s attention:

1. Write shorter.

Make your impact with fewer words, not more. You should write with the singular purpose of proving your point with those words.

2. Don’t repeat information.

Repeated words are wasted opportunities. If something is so important that you think it needs repeating, say it right the first time.

3. Say it LOUD and BIG!

Think about this: If you have a number or a factoid so important that you think it bears repeating, why bury it in a sea of 9-point type? Give it POP! Work with the Creative Studio to present that killer fact or phrase in a can’t-miss display. One beautifully designed graphic/pullout that takes up a third of a page (for example) will have infinitely more impact than that same information repeated three, four or five times.

4. Mix it up.

Pictures can say a thousand words, so consider charts, lists, graphics and photos to help tell your story. They are quick and effective.

5. Appeal to your audience’s desires.

Tell stories. Put a face on it. Make it personal. You’re not selling a product; you’re selling an experience. Sell the feeling the client will have once their problems are fixed.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve invested approximately 75 seconds into this blog. That’s about nine times our attention span.

Keep that in mind the next time you’re writing to a client – or a goldfish.

Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

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