9 ways to get your message through to skimmers

As the daily time crunch tightens and the need for knowledge grows, more and more readers use shortcuts to glean information from online content. Try these tactics to court the impatient.

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Chances are, you won’t read this article. Most people won’t; most will skim it.

Everyone’s too busy and too overwhelmed with information to actually read much, especially online. Heat map studies prove that after the headline and introduction, most online readers read only the first few words of lines.

Skimming will probably increase as print publications disappear and digital outlets, Kindles and iPads flourish.

Skimming may be the new reading. Some experts lament that skimmers lack deep understanding of the text. Regardless, corporate communications, public relations and marketing writers must adjust their digital content for the vast audience of skimmers.

The following techniques help skimmers consume content quickly while still comprehending key PR and marketing messages:

1. Headlines. Condense the essence of the article here. Make your key point in the headline and first paragraph.

2. Subheads. Subheads organize content into categories and help skimmers find information. Ideally, readers can understand the gist of your message through the subheads. State the main point of each section right away, and then elaborate.

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