How long will it take them to read?
I am, sadly, monolingual, so I am not able to read 20 minutes, a free commuter newspaper published in Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland.
But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate it.
20 minutes lets readers know in its title how much time they’re likely to read the piece. In other words, it reports average reading time, or A.R.T.
If your piece is short enough, reporting A.R.T. may increase readership. Readers who had planned to put your piece in the pile of things “to read later” — aka the rest stop on the way to the trash can — may say, “Geesh, surely I can spend two minutes on this now.”
People spend 96% of their time on websites looking, not reading, according to a Xerox PARC critical incident study.
Would your message be twice as good if it were half as long? The research says yes: The shorter your piece, the more likely readers are to read your message, understand it and make good decisions based on it.
But most communicators (and, let’s be fair, their reviewers) ignore the research and keep piling on the paragraphs. The result? “You’re not more informed,” writes Tom Rosenstiel, former media critic for the Los Angeles Times. “You’re just numbed.”
Analyze your message for 27 readability metrics and leave with targets, tips and techniques for improving each one.
So how long is too long? What’s the right length for your piece? Your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words? In this session, you’ll run your message through a cool (free!) tool to measure, monitor and manage readability.
At Cut Through the Clutter — my one-and-only 2018 clear-writing Master Class on April 17-18 in New York — you’ll learn how to:
- Analyze your message for 27 readability metrics — and leave with quantifiable targets, tips and techniques for improving each one.
- Increase reading, understanding and sharing with five techniques for cutting your copy significantly.
- Avoid discombobulating readers. Leave this workshop with 11 metrics for reducing sentence length and increasing comprehension.
- Stop getting skipped. Find out how long is too long — and leave with three ways to shorten paragraphs.
- Eliminate multisyllabic pileups from your copy. They’re the No. 1 predictor of poor readability.
PRSA members: Earn 4 APR maintenance points!
Save $100 when you register by Feb. 17.
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