I listened to a great TED Talk today about effective communication at work - How to Write Less but say More by Jim Vandehei.

Jim has found, through data, that:

  • people spend, on average, only 26 seconds reading anything they choose to read on the internet
  • people rarely complete reading an article, often sharing articles on social media they haven’t even read
  • 70% of employees want shorter communications at work

There are other findings, but my interest was regarding corporate communication, where the message is clear that you need to keep communication short if you want your message to be read/understood.

I advise listening to the podcast, but for my memory, in summary, Jim suggests the following:

  1. Consider your audience - what do they need to know? Don’t think about your own agenda, think about their agenda. What do they care about?
  2. Ensure the most important message is stated early and clearly - don’t waffle, you have limited time before you lose your audience. Make sure you get their attention as early as possible.
  3. Keep it simple - use simple sentence structures and understandable words.
  4. Be human. Write the way you talk - don’t try and look clever with complex prose and big words.
  5. Use as few words and sentences as possible so the message is conveyed - give both the writer and the reader their time back. You have 26 seconds!