By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
What do you think the average person’s attention span is?
Studies show that it has decreased from twelve seconds to eight seconds in the past two decades – that’s one second lower than a goldfish.
Our brains just can’t keep up with the amount of content and information that’s being presented to us on a daily basis.
Gen Z in particular has become so used to getting a message quickly that many often struggle with being able to focus on reading things like emails from colleges where the point does not become clear quickly.
If you want to improve your chances for engagement and action, shorter emails (and text messages) are oftentimes going to be better. As I explain during the training workshops I lead, if a prospective student or parent has to scroll, there’s a good chance your message is too long.
But, and this is an important point to remember, content that is timely, helpful, and feels authentic, and/or is entertaining, will always hold its audience…even if it takes a little longer to consume. Proof of that can be found all over YouTube right now.
Let me give you eight tips that will help make your emails in particular shorter and more engaging:
- The longer it takes you to write an email, letter, or text message, and the more times you re-read and edit it, the more likely you are to make it too wordy, too polished, and include a bunch of extra information that’s going to get in the way of what you’re trying to get across to the reader.
- Always stick with one main point or topic. There is no expectation that you tell them everything all at one time.
- Get rid of any ‘fluff’ at the beginning and dive right into the core point of your message. This generation continues to tell us in surveys that it’s okay for you to be direct, but also be a little empathetic at times.
- Use a conversational tone, and make your content feel more personal and less transactional by talking with the reader and not at them.
- Incorporate more direct quotes and storytelling from the current student point of view.
- Visually include lots of white space with short paragraphs. We like to read things that are easy on our eyes. Structure and the look of your message are important.
- Have one clear call to action instead of multiple things to do or multiple hyperlinks to click. In addition to making your message longer than it needs to be, oftentimes it’s confusing for the reader to figure out which thing they’re supposed to do first.
- Before hitting send, read your entire message out loud. If it sounds wordy or confusing to you, it definitely will to them.
If you’d like to talk more about this article, go ahead and reply back or email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, I encourage you to forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.