October 20, 2021

Attention Span of Readers?

Susan Reichert

Words are important. Advertisers know this. As writers, we know this too.

Our words need to grab attention, whether it is the title of our book, the title of our blog, the titles of a post, and our websites.

So, what is the human attention span now? You will be shocked to know it is now 8 seconds. Where did I get this? From Kevin McSpadden on a study from Microsoft Corp.

This study showed people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

According to researchers in Canada they surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.

I guess the question I have is, is our mobile revolution this important to let it take our attention span? What do you think?

According to the article our attention span is less than the attention of a goldfish. Frightening!

What then can a writer do to get and keep the attention of readers? The saving factor is our words and phrases must be powerful. The kind that grabs the reader and causes them to have interest to read further.

This is nothing new.

We all look at the headline first. If it interests us, we will read further. According to David Ogilvy, a British advertising tycoon said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. If you don’t get someone’s attention immediately, your entire landing page fails to reach its potential.” com

My curiosity got the better of me and I researched words and found this: Amanda McArthur, Research Director with Mequoda, said, “The word, “You”, is generally considered to be the most powerful single word, ranking right up there with free, new and save.”

Why are these words so important? Because they speak to human emotion and the emphasis is on them.

People in general will do something either because it makes them feel good or to avoid something painful.

Direct marketing legend, Herschell Gordon Lewis, says in The Art of Writing Copy, “Unless the reader regards himself as the target of your message, benefit can’t exist. Benefit demands a ‘We/You’ relationship.”

Here are a few of Mr. Lewis’ power words and phrases:

· right now

· surprise

· hot

· first time offered

· not sold in stores

· good only until [DATE]

· Don’t miss out

· I’ll look for your order

· Try it at our risk

Happy Writing!

Susan Reichert, author of Listen Close, Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. Published numerous magazine articles and stories in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. She is the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine. Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own. Susan is a member of the DAR and a member of the First Families of Mississippi

Visit Susan at:,, , Amazon -


  1. Susan,

    Thank you for these excellent insights about the importance of using the right words to reach our readers.

    author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition)

    1. Thank you Terry. By the way, thank you for always being such a great encourager to writers.

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Kay, my thoughts exactly, I guess depending on how fast we talk is how many words we get to use to get attention! lol

  3. Susan, this is fascinating. And I totally agree our attention span has decreased...mine for sure! lol. I love that you added attention grabbing words that I plan to use. :-)

  4. Thanks Patricia, I refuse to believe that my attention span has decreased because of my age however, lol. Use away...