As a society, our attention span is shortening considerably. Whilst not yet a society with the attention span of a gnat, we do expect pages to load quickly, posts and articles to be short and people to get to the point in a conversation or email without a lot of padding. The success of our business can depend on it.
Whether you are looking at creating a blog, social media posts, or the notorious “elevator” pitch for business networking, you need to make it memorable, attractive, concise and most importantly, clear, if you want it to be a success. If you don’t people will move on to consider the next person, business or piece of content.
So how do you achieve that? Particularly with the elevator pitch which is very short and needs to fit into 40 or 60 seconds. How do you encapsulate your whole business, who you are and what you stand for, into such a short time frame? The answer for some people is to create a story.
Because there is a storytelling tradition in all societies, we grow up understanding how they are structured. Stories can be used to form shortcuts that allow others to fill in gaps and understand more in less time.
Use the right words and you can conjure up pictures in people’s minds which contain feelings, assumptions and social norms that ensure the words have a greater impact.
Trick the Brain
Using a word that has strong associations with something different can work well. I have a popular pitch that starts “I cure piles”. Everyone who hears it for the first time sits up and pays attention. It always raises a laugh, but most importantly, it also ensures that I am remembered.
The reference to piles works because our brain uses shortcuts and makes connections based on what we already know, our lived experience, and the things we have been socially conditioned to expect. Using a phrase that is more commonly associated with a different sphere makes people sit up and take notice because their brain has already made the most obvious connection. If someone stood up and said “I shoot people for a living” what would you think? Hitman? Armed Forces? Photographer? When you do find out, you are going to remember what that person did for a living.
Become a Character
Our story-telling tradition includes characters and these are another convenient way to get your point across. Create a character and explain how you solved their problem. If you can also keep to a theme this will make the posts or pitches even more memorable. It gives your posts a coherence that helps people connect with your content, search for the link, and look forward to reading, or hearing, more from you.
Long-form content can also benefit from this type of approach. People are undoubtedly reading your content to gain insight into the subject matter. They are also considering whether you have in-depth knowledge of your subject and may be considering whether you would be a good choice to work with them on a project related to the content. There are a lot of long-form posts available, often on the same subject. Injecting some personality into your posts, or taking a different approach to that of other writers can help your work, and you, to stand out. As with the shorter form posts, clear and concise is the road to success.
Alongside my work supporting clients with administrative and organisational tasks, I also help them to present their business effectively via the written word, whether this is routine emails and letters, documenting processes, or creating social media posts and blogs that effectively tell their business story.