In PR, creating a variety of content is one of our daily tasks. But do we actually think about whether the sentences we write are really brain-friendly? Personally, I’d never given it much thought. I didn’t even know exactly what to think of as “brain-friendly writing”. Because my focus is very much on the content side of our job, I wanted to learn more about this perspective. To spark my curiosity, I decided to attend a webinar on it this summer. I learned that brain-friendly writing is about how our brain perceives written texts when we read them, what factors capture the reader’s attention and where they lose focus. And this doesn’t always happen the way we might think. Here are five key learnings I discovered during the webinar:
1. Our brain likes it short and simple
All day long, we are bombarded with a flood of information. To keep our brain from overheating, our limbic system is busy filtering out unimportant details all the time. So, when we write texts, we should always avoid repetition or self-explanatory passages. Our sentences should be as condensed as possible and unnecessary adjectives should be avoided.
2. The brain is a demanding reader
No matter how interesting a headline may sound, if the reader’s attention is not captured while reading the text, he or she will quickly lose interest. This does not only happen if the reader is bored, but also if a text contains too many repetitions and empty phrases. On the other hand, they may also feel overwhelmed by overly complicated sentences and foreign words and therefore give up reading the rest. Or the problem described is presented as so enormous and unsolvable that they feel discouraged. In addition, it is interesting to note that a reader can also feel anxiety and time pressure. This happens especially if the text is too long.
3. Nobody likes facts and figures
To highlight the importance of a particular issue, such as digital transformation, we often work with statistics and study results in our texts. However, these are not important for our brain when reading. For the reader, they are nothing more than dead numbers with which he or she cannot identify because the human and emotional component is missing. And this is true regardless of our professional position or the industry we work in. In the end, we are all just people who want to deal with things that are important and resonate with us personally.
4. It’s always about emotions
Reading and writing have little to do with logic as emotions play a large part. As readers, we want to know more about the story involving real people. This helps us to identify with what is being described. Pictures, concrete examples and the use of names help us to understand certain facts and to remember them better afterwards.
5. The lasting impact of a text
At the end of a well-written, brain-friendly text, there must always be a certain message that resonates. Most importantly, the message should be positive and give the reader a good feeling. Going back to the example of digital transformation mentioned earlier, this should not consist in the readers being confronted with an unfixable problem that they are powerless to solve. Instead, it should empower and motivate the reader to tackle the challenge and succeed.
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