Have you heard the term TL;DR or seen it written in comments following a post, article or email? It stands for Too Long; Didn’t Read. And yes, it is a thing. And yes, you’re seeing it more and more often these days.
Studies show that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. That’s not surprising considering how fast paced our lives are these days and the amount of information we’re exposed to on a daily basis. But a shorter attention span is problematic, not just for communicators, marketers and advertisers, but for anyone who is trying to communicate and share information. It’s easy to fall into a vicious cycle of complaining about how people don’t read or listen anymore. Instead of being offended by that, why not embrace it and use it to your advantage?
TL;DR is a reminder to communicators to be concise, interesting and to-the-point. You need to grab people’s attention right away and make them care or want to learn more. It calls for good writing and creative writing.
What about the times you need to provide more comprehensive, complex or technical information? Then take a cue from Reddit. It has created a TL;DR section on its platform where curators condense information and make it easy for readers to get access to quick recaps. You can take the same approach to your lengthier communication items by providing the detailed information, as well as a condensed version in an executive summary format, an infographic or a bulleted list. With this approach, you’re giving readers an option while still providing the information they need.
So, the next time you write something, ask yourself if someone else will be tempted to respond TL;DR. If the answer is yes, stop and think about how you can make it more concise and interesting. Give people options and you’ll be more effective.