I’m Not a Lazy Reader After All

All digital communication professionals should be asking themselves the following question: How do we get our digital audience to give us a few minutes of their time to stop and read our article? I mean the ENTIRE thing, right to the end?

Photo by Sarah Chai on Pexels.com

While reading “How to Read” by Brian Clark it became very clear to me that my own reading style is that of the Inspectional-Skimming reader. In all honesty, to say that I actually read the article on the first pass would be a lie. I caught myself numerous times skimming down the article until something popped out that I wanted learn more about.

I have probably been a skimmer my entire life but until this article I thought I was just a lazy reader. Back in high school when an Encyclopedia or National Geographic magazine were the main source of information, I would flip through the pages until either an image or headline jumped out at me. I would then skim through the section that caught my eye to determine if there was something of substance I could use to complete my assignment.

Who really has time to read every word? I didn’t feel I had time back then, and I can’t help but think that society feels the pressure of time even more now with thousands of options available at their scrolling fingertips. 

The inverted writing pyramid quickly and visually shows the importance of putting the critical information up front, at the top of your article. This is where the skimmers hang out, trust me. In fact, I actually believe that the headline is as important as the first paragraph. If there’s nothing good or enticing there, us skimmers are moving on! If you catch the skimmers eye there, use the middle portion of the article to keep them there, and the last portion to wrap up everything in a nice little package, and invite them to come back to visit your space again.

As writers, I believe it’s fair, and actually smart, to assume that the large majority of readers are initially skimmers.  It’s our job as communicators to grab the skimmers attention and keep them with us for a while. 

Sounds easy doesn’t it?

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