More and More. People are Reading Less and Less.

I can still remember my Mother telling me to “turn off the TV and read a book”. I think she truly believed that my brain was turning to mush. And that the TV literally sucked brain cells that only a book could replenish.

During a recent conference I blurted out “no one’s reading anymore! And if you do, you’re so old you’ll die soon”. It became the most tweeted excerpt from the attendees. I think they call that hyperbole. I realize many people read and I’m glad you read my blog!

But when it comes to most communications (not perceived as “literature” or “novels”), people have given up reading. It’s more like “browsing”.

We browse the internet, browse magazines and newspapers, and we only browse emails.

We’ve all been there. We send an email to someone with a quick question and we receive one of two types of emails.

  1. The quick response that we read entirely and come away feeling like we understand.
  2. Or we get the long, detailed, paragraph-style email that tries to alleviate all misperception. And we either ignore it completely, file it and hope to “get back to it when we have time”, or we browse it to get the “short answer”.

Thanks to web analytics we know the average person spends about 10 seconds on a webpage. Since we read about 300 words/minute; that’s about 50 words that we can take in. And we’ll be more apt to read it if it’s not in paragraph form.

Case in point:

  • Bullet points are often eye-attractors
  • We like reading summaries, rather than wordy paragraphs
  • More people will read these bullets than the first paragraphs. Right?

So stop writing long communications and get to the point. More and more; people are reading less and less.

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