Five Tips to Light Up Your Reader’s Brain

December 3, 2020

Tap into the reward centers of your audience’s brains, and you’re much more likely to drive action, according to a new article in the Harvard Business Review. In Write to Reward your Reader, author Bill Birchard points to the work of neuroscientists and psychologists that show how specific types of language activate pleasure responses in the brain. These five tips can help you write more compelling content.

Keep it simple—People respond to shorter words and sentences, so keep it brief and distill complex concepts into simple ideas.

Keep it specific—Use words that rouse the senses, and your readers’ brains will react as though they can feel, smell, see and taste what you’re telling them.

Keep it stirring—Emotions rule, and they aid comprehension. Choose words that evoke feelings, and those feelings will help convey your meaning.

Keep it social—Even small indicators like quotations or using the “you” voice help people feel connected to others, which in turn activates the reward centers.

Keep it story-driven—This tip reinforces what we know: Stories and metaphors are powerful. Data may prove your case, but the story behind the data is what will sell it.

If you’ve had success with these tactics or others and want to share with your peers on the Communication Blog, contact Christie Wells at cwells@umn.edu.