Clear Communication And Today's Attention Span

Apparently I am wordy. That probably isn't enough details, so let me expound on it. 

I've received some feedback that I can write an email that is deemed to be "too long". I went back and looked at some of my longer emails, ones I heard comments about and measured them. The longer ones were all between 150 and 400 words. To give some context to how much that is, a typical page is around 500 words. A typical reader can reach 200 words per minute at a comprehension rate of 60%. (If you are interested in finding out your reading and comprehension scores this was a fun, and quick exercise at

So an email that takes 1-2 minutes to read and comprehend is too much. Unfortunately this is partially the nature of the world we now live in. Research showed that our attention span decreased from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just over 8 seconds in 2015. I need to accept that and find ways to get better at being concise. 

Now, does that mean that details don't matter? Of course not. I also get a fair amount of feedback that people like the details, appreciate my meeting notes and overall feel like they are understanding things better, that is why I try to explain things. That is the challenge when sending an email to a group of people, everyone wants something different. I still believe that first and foremost communication needs to be clear. If everyone doesn't understand what you are talking about then you've just wasted time. I would rather error on the side of being a little wordy and making sure everyone understands than being brief and losing half of my audience.

We should constantly be looking for ways to make our communication as short as possible and as clear as possible. With people's attention spans we have no choice but to get better at it.

That was 323 words, did I lose you along the way?

TL;DR - Some think I'm wordy, need to be clear and concise in my communication.


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