Man cannot live by bullet points alone
I have this recurring nightmare that I’ve been found slumped over my keyboard. The medical examiner determines that my brain is riddled with bullet points.
PowerPointization is evident everywhere. Even the TV newscasts have resorted to summarizing their stories in bullet points on the screen, as the anchorperson reads a voice-over. Now it’s creeping into the Public Relations and Communications community on LinkedIn.
While we may blame David Letterman for injecting Top 10 lists into our culture, let’s admit that enumeration serves a purpose. But as professional communicators let’s also promise to stretch our creativity in different ways.
3 reasons I won’t give 3 reasons
1. Everybody else is making numbered lists. My message gets more attention if it doesn’t look like everybody else’s.
2. There aren’t enough good points. I started out to write Top 10 Ways to Work Less and Earn More, but I can only think of two, and I risk wasting the reader’s time by inventing another eight.
3. Enumeration interrupts storytelling. Journalism schools teach how to tell stories, not write articles. Numbering my content distracts the reader from a smooth flow (unless I’m writing about Snow White and those guys who hung around her).
Wait, what? Can’t bullet points help?
Yes, there are good reasons why I’ll continue to use bullet points and you should, too.
1. Get more clicks. Putting “Top 10 Reasons” in your headline may result in more click-throughs, as busy site visitors know the article won’t take too long to read.
2. The point is clear. Today’s reader spends approximately 1 nanosecond on a Web page. By counting off your points, you make an article very easy to skim quickly.
3. Save words. I love writing clever paragraph transitions. Using bullet points makes such connective tissue unnecessary. Your article can make the same point in fewer words.
Drop me a message and I’ll give you 5 Reasons Why You Should Work With Jonathan Lehrer.