February 21, 2013
This entry is one in a series of Top 10 lessons learned by Ron Potter in his previous job as the Director of Capacity Planning at a Fortune 100 health insurance provider.120 Seconds.
Brevity and clarity are extremely important when discussing IT options with business or IT leader. Research shows that many readers have a 2-minute attention span. It doesn’t matter if it is a novel, white paper or report. Most executives fall into that category, mostly in self defense. In that span of time, you need to give them enough information to grab their interest, see the value and want more. If it takes longer than that, your ideas or results stand a good chance of being dismissed. Think about it. A capacity planning manager may have to deal with thousands of devices. It’s hard enough to give the time to keep abreast of those. Think what a senior executive has to deal with when he must keep abreast of all the moving parts in an IT Department or the business as a whole.
There are commonly used methods to stay within the 2-minute span:
- Use “newspaper headlines” to make your points. Hit them right between the eyes with your points. You want them to listen.
Only list important items. Executives usually aren’t concerned with things that really don’t matter in the scheme of things. Money and risks are usually the most successful topics that get their attention.
- Use space wisely; don’t make the page(s) too busy. It detracts from your message; you want them to focus on just a few important points.
- Try to keep the sentences to 5 words or less. Education research has shown that the mind has more difficulty keeping thoughts in immediate memory when they exceed 7 words in length. Keeping points to 5 words or less ensures thoughts are kept in bite-sized amounts for the reader to consider.
Clear and concise reports will get the readers attention, help get your information across to decision makers, and get them to take the actions you need to sustain service quality.
Until the next post…