Whether it’s a succinct declarative statement in an email or a complex argument in a report, your writing has the potential to light up the neural circuitry of your readers’ brains.
Simplicity increases what scientists call the brain’s “processing fluency.” Short sentences, familiar words, and clean syntax ensure that the reader doesn’t have to exert too much ...
Specifics awaken a swath of brain circuits. Think of “pelican” versus “bird.” Or “wipe” versus “clean.” Our neurons actually “embody” what the words mean: When we hear more-specific ones,...
Our brains are wired to make nonstop predictions, including guessing the next word in every line of text.
If your writing confirms the readers’ guess, that’s OK, though poss...
Our brains process the emotional connotations of a word within 200 milliseconds of reading it—much faster than we understand its meaning. So when we read emotionally charged material, we reflex...
We’re wired to savor anticipation. One famous study showed that people are often happier planning a vacation than they are after taking one. Scientists call the reward “anticipatory utility.”
Please the readers by giving them an “aha” moment:
Our brains are wired to crave human connection—even in what we read. We don’t want just to read about people, though—we want to understand what they’re thinking as quickly as possible.
Few things beat a good anecdote. Stories, even fragments of them, captivate extensive portions of readers’ brains in part because they combine many of the elements I’ve described a...
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