If there is one thing that safety managers despair about, the world over, is how to get their staff to be more engaged and responsible for safety.
Copy writers know how to write advertising so that people will read their content.
They understand that most people are time-poor. Rather than read an ad or a document from top to bottom, people will quickly scan a document to see if there if is anything worth reading.
The headline, image and first sentence will draw them in.
As a safety professional, it's important that you write content that not only draws people in, but encourages them to continue to read more.
This is the only way to make your written communication stand out and be read.
Here are seven important techniques to include in your safety writing to hold interest and ensure an easy to scan page.
- Use a paragraph per thought – When people see a big clump of text, they tune out and stop reading. Make your writing friendly to look at, by including lots of short paragraphs.
- Include bullet points – The eyes like bullet points and are drawn to them. They also make it easier for people to understand information. They are great to use when talking about steps in a process.
- Include a visual – Ensure you have a photo or diagram that adds to the information. People are drawn to visuals and will look at them first.
- Use white space – Again, lots of text is confronting to a lot of people. Break up the text with paragraphs and spaces. Embrace white space. It also makes it easier for people to scan the article.
- Incorporate sub headlines – This breaks up the page and gives the eyes a break from lots of text. It also helps those who scan. A rule of thumb is a sub headline every four paragraphs (if you don’t need a sub headline, an image is also good).
- Write concisely - Use short sentences (17 words or less) and use short words (5 characters or less). Around 70-80% of your words should consist of only one syllable. Write at Grade 10 reading level or lower, to ensure everyone can understand. Use the readability statistics in Microsoft Word to check your writing level.
- Make use of bold and italics – To draw people’s attention to important information, make sure you use bold and italics where you can. However, avoid using big clumps of text in either of these formats, as it is hard to read.
To be an effective safety professional, it's important to learn how to write safety communication in a way that encourages people to want to keep reading.
Ensuring that your safety communication looks approachable and interesting, will attract more readers and ensure they learn important safety information.