How to Keep Your Reader’s Attention
Don’t let them lose their train of thought
Hi, it’s Tree Langdon from Medium and LinkedIn
A great article gets zero traction
You’ve written a fantastic article about a topic you know well, but it doesn’t do well.
You know your information is great, and you’re excited to share your knowledge, but something isn’t working.
What went wrong?
Sometimes you’re so wrapped up in your explanation that you lose clarity.
If you’re lost, imagine what it’s like for a reader.
If your article flows logically from one stage to another, you’ve got my attention.
As soon as you bumble around, jumping from topic to topic, I might jump right off the page.
If you keep the thread going and state your case in an interesting or thought-provoking way, I’ll stay with you. I’m curious to see where you’ll end up.
When you lay your arguments out clearly, and follow a direct line to the end, I’m following along, nodding in agreement.
When you get to the end and fall flat, so do I.
Confused writing is confusing for the reader
Clarity is important. When you know the main point you want to get across, it’s a lot easier to keep your article on track.
Here’s a simple way to analyze your article.
Focus on your titles
Great titles are like road signs. They tell you where you’re going.
What if you wrote your article using only your main title and subtitles? Would the reader get the gist of what you want to say?
Here’s an example of how that works:
How to Use Topics to Increase Your Followers On Medium
These are the titles I used in the article:
How to Use Topics To Increase Your Followers On Medium (main title)
Writers engage in conversations with their readers
Other writers are readers too
Search for a topic that interests you
Write an article about the topic and link back
Readers follow topics they are interested in
I put the takeaway in a quote format, so it stands out:
“Authors love to be recognized, and this is a really great way to connect.”
Then I bring it home with a final thought:
“They will see that you tagged them, and they will likely check out your article and might comment or share it with their social circle.”
Look at your titles.
Write them out and ask yourself if they help the reader understand your topic. Many readers scan through articles. Great titles help them capture the essence of what you are saying.
When you take the time to look at your titles on their own, it’s easy to see when you go off on an unrelated tangent.
If they lose their train of thought, you’ve lost your reader.
If you notice that you’ve gone off on a tangent, it’s ok. Cut that section out and paste it into a new draft article. You can expand on that thought in another way.
This is a technique I use most of the time. I find it helps keep my readers engaged.
Things I’m Enjoying…
Biographies are Boring as Sh*tdoes a great job of using its titles to keep their reader on track in this story:
Words In Motion is a reader-supported publication. To support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.