How do I get someone to read my boring document?
By Sarah-Jayne Shine
We’re masters at this. First up we know good content from bad and we can help you with this process. Documents needn’t be boring and crammed full of dull words. We’ve converted 20pp word docs into a single sided A3 for many of our clients using infographics, hero photography and making sure that each precious word used is the right word. Plain English people, no waffle. Your content should be all killer and no filler and we love content. Call us word nerds by all means (we’ve been called worse) because where space is limited there’s no room for fluff.
The same rules apply to consultation docs, annual reports, Long Term plans, strategies etc where you need to grab the attention of your audience and keep them engaged throughout. We can transform raw, unappealing data into pages that you WANT to turn, not that you feel you HAVE to turn. Need your story telling? We’ll tell your story.
We don’t do boring and nor should you.
That’s the good news.
The not so good news is that the attention clock is ticking and it only goes up to 8 seconds.
According to a recent study, the average attention span of a person is less than that of a goldfish which means a reader takes 8 seconds to decide if a document is interesting enough to keep reading. We need to engage our audience, tempt them in and ensure they stay absorbed. What can be done in 8 precious seconds?
And here’s more good news; you can do plenty in 8 seconds:
Know your audience. Know them inside out. Find out what makes them tick, where they’ve come from, and where they want to go to. Know what they had for breakfast and where they want to be today, tomorrow and in the future. A document should always serve their needs and their interests. Once you know what motivates, interests and inspires your target audience, then you can write and design a document tailored for their needs.
Have a structure. Take your audience on a journey. Don’t lose them or give them the chance to veer off track. Engage them early and keep them engaged.
Less is more. We only use words that add value. Each word is precious and we never use words just for the sake of filling space. And if there are too many words, or the subject matter is complex and exhaustive then don’t use any words at all. An Infographic can tell the story a thousand words can never do. And we love infographics.
Use icons as connectors. Icons are symbolic typography that, if used well, can create an immediate visual connection and understanding of the subject matter of your document.
Don’t be afraid of the ticking clock, to some people an 8 second deadline is a luxury.