#DNY Say Less to Say More- A Lesson in Sound bites

Guessing he will grow up to be a politician.

Guessing he will grow up to be a politician.

“Poets, priests and politicians have words to thank for their positions”. What a great and powerful line from the Police. Here’s the deal, the words you use matter. Often times, the less you say, the better. Why? Because we all have a VERY short attention span.

I said it the other day, If I could edit half as well as I write, I would be a fantastic writer. One of my facebook friends proceeded to re-write that sentence into: If I could edit, I would be a fantastic writer. Funny as it was, it’s true.

So what exactly are sound bites? I know we hear about them all the time, especially during election season, but what does it mean?

Wikipedia states: In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that captures the essence of what the speaker was trying to say.

It also references that often times sound bites are “lifted” from a much larger body of text (or music). That’s not the point of this piece. What’s important is the idea of “short phrases”.

When thinking about your business, think about the things you need to communicate:

  • Why is this a good place to work
  • Why would someone want to buy from you (Your Unique Sales Proposition)
  • Ways to describe your new product or service offering
  • How you’re toward your plan
  • How to get someone fired up to take on a new project and more

If you were to create sound bites for each of these ideas you would have crisper communication. People don’t take the time to read (or even listen to) long drawn out descriptions until they are compelled to do so. You need to hook them. That’s the job of the sound bite.

  • What does the sound bite look (or sound) like? I’m glad I asked:
  • A great sound bite HAS to hit the central thesis immediately
  • It should be 10 words or less
  • It does not contain a bunch of adjectives
  • It is focused on what is in it for the audience
  • Ideally, it is memorable
  • It’s effectively the gist of a much bigger idea

So here’s your homework: Take a look at what you’ve written in your marketing pieces and come up with a short sentence that describes the paragraph. Put that sentence on top of the paragraph. The readership will go up. You can also use that sentence when you are speaking to people. When they ask you for more, THEN you can refer to the entire paragraph. This will eliminate the “glossy eyed” look you receive from time to time.

How do you use sound bites currently?

What would you add to this post?

Are you more inclined to pay attention to a business who uses good sound bites?

We will be working on sound bites for the next few weeks with our client Ray Laethem Motor Village. I’m excited to see how they turn out.

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