5 Tips for Engaging Content–Captivate Your Audience!

I might be no Dan Brown, but I do work for a big company as a corporate communications writer, and have been published regionally as well as nationally. I’m also a former newspaper reporter who’s won two Associated Press awards. Therefore, here are my top 5 writing tips when drafting content for the general public. They’ve NEVER failed me!

1. Keep all article leads less than 30 words (and aim for 25). Trivia question: How many words does the average person read in a sentence before they might begin losing comprehension? Fourteen. . . 14 words! And the average American reads at a 4th-5th grade level. Case in point? The shorter and more engaging your first sentence, the better chance you’ll keep your reader reading your content.

2. Keep your paragraphs short and choppy, and use bullet points and/or subheads. I know, I know, we all love getting creative with our alliteration and descriptive genius. However, we are living in an age of “scanners.” People want to scan for the facts, and they can’t do that while swimming through endless paragraphs upon paragraphs. Break it up, and give your reader the luxury to scan for topics. Otherwise, you’ll lose them.

3. Keep your articles less than 500 words. I learned this neat little tip while writing for the paper. Studies have actually shown that the average reader will begin losing interest in a story after 500 words. Personally, I suggest aiming for 400. It will get your message across while helping it stick in your reader’s mind.

4. Put a face to your message, story, or content. The bottom line is this: People love a good story. Whatever you’re writing about, people will relate much better if you have a human interest angle. Interview someone. Quote them in your content. Relate their personal story to your facts and stats. Then begin your article/blog with their greatest struggles. Trust me, people will cling for more.

5. STAY AWAY FROM JARGON! This is one of my biggest pet peeves. So often, especially in business or corporate communications writing, people get caught up in their profession’s “jargon.” However, the average reader won’t know what they’re talking about, and they’ll cease to care. They’ll simply go elsewhere for the information. While writing your content, ask yourself if you’re explaining your message in a way that a 5th grader can understand. If not, go back, revise, and SIMPLIFY.

10 responses to “5 Tips for Engaging Content–Captivate Your Audience!”

  1. Very good advise. Can’t get over the average 4th or 5th grade reading level. God, we’re doomed! Maybe blogs will bring back reading. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Gosh, I know! I worry about that reading level too. A little scary! Thank you for the compliments on my post. I’m glad you found it useful!

  2. All good tips…especially the word limits (depending on the piece and venue). I’ve found this true of the blog posts that hold my attention — when they ramble on past what is necessary, I’m gone. There are so many other things to read.

    Happy to find your blog!

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thank you kindly! I’m glad you agree these are good tips. =) In writing for the web, newspapers, etc., etc., I’ve found these guidelines to be so true. They’ve never failed me. Thank you for stopping by, and I hope maybe you’ll come back and visit again. Feel free to subscribe to my blog, or follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ShariLopatin.

  3. Wonderful points. I’m definitely going to poke around your blog. Thanks for the info!

    1. Thank you V.V! I really enjoyed your voice on your blog posts as well. I’m going to add you to my blog roll.

  4. I completely agree. People don’t have an attention span anymore and it makes us writers suffer. Luckily, we can work around that. Great post!

    1. Thank you Belen! Ditto on the suffering writers. It took me quite awhile to adapt, personally, as I’m an old-school journalist and writer in a younger body. But I noticed once I got past my own personal biases, people have been more drawn to my writing, and I can still write longer, more prosey work once I got ’em hooked. 😉

  5. Great article! I was reading your comment that you left on my post, much appreciated. I would like to present an idea to you, will mail you soon.

    All the best.

    1. Thank you! Yes, feel free to e-mail me whenever you want (my e-mail is under the “contact me” section of my page). I’m very open to ideas!


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