Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

The war for attention: How to be a skillful communicator

Never have humans talked, tweeted or texted more words — and found it more difficult to be heard.

Why it matters: In this era of nonstop noise, every person must be a skillful communicator. Yet most struggle at it.


  • Customers and employees are demanding to know what companies stand for. Most executives have been lousy at providing an answer.
  • Our remote and hybrid working world puts a premium on clarity and consistency of message. Most managers are unprepared.
  • When communication fails, teams and ideas fail. 30% of all project failures are the direct result of poor communication, according to a Project Management Institute study.

Here are a few tips we have learned running a media company that you can use to bust through the noise:

  1. Write like you speak. Jargon, throat-clearing and well-known background weigh your message down. Conversational language is captivating.
  2. Ruthlessly prioritize. Attention spans are short and shrinking. Accept it. Get to the point quickly so readers can move on. 60% to 80% of people will scan, not read, what you write, University of Maryland research found.
  3. Repetition matters. If you want someone to remember something, communicate crisply — and repeatedly. By the time you have annoyed yourself, others are probably starting to hear you.
  4. Diversify. Fast. Every person needs to be able to speak authoritatively — or listen authentically — about diversity, equity and inclusion. If you rolled your eyes at this one, get help, quick.

The big picture: The communications crisis isn’t confined to business or top leaders. The more noise and distraction, the more precision and efficiency matter in being heard — and remembered.

  • Just look at politics: Power no longer flows from position, seniority or money. It flows to those who master — or game — modern, short-burst communications on cable or Twitter.
  • Teachers, preachers, small-group leaders — everyone who communicates one-to-many — faces similar challenges in penetrating brains rewired by quick-twitch technology.

📱 You're invited: Join Jim VandeHei and other Axios colleagues Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET for a half-hour virtual event, "The War for Attention: Communication Rules for a Hybrid Workforce." Sign up here.

4 ffp

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories