Everything in communication today involves editing. Why? Because our attention spans make us resist spending time reading or listening to something perceived as “long”. Our headlines or titles are the ultimate summary of what’s to come in the content. They’re SO important. But some research suggests that people don’t read an entire headline any more. Yes, it’s gotten that bad. Others say people often assume the meaning of a headline by seeing 3 to 4 of the first words. This is crazy!
Can a church create headlines or sermon titles that demand to be read? Here are 6 tips:
- Keep it short. Never accept something supplied to you because most people over-write and over-speak. It’s rare that anyone instantly says things concise and edited. If someone (or you) writes a headline/title ALWAYS consider how you can say it with fewer words. Then try to edit it more.
- Use keywords up front. If people like to scan the first of headlines/titles, make sure the words you use at the first describe the content, the problem you’re solving, the goals you’re helping, or the reason to read further. Often this just requires moving the words around. Better for you to do that, than to require the reader to spend time finding them.
- Make it about them; not you. Never describe your benefit as a description of content. Always make sure that a person who’s reading it (or hearing it) will instantly feel that it’s about them. Best way? Say their name, occupation, demographic, or problem in the headline/title.
- Make it a benefit; not a statement. Everyone is seeking to discover something to make their life easier. A solution to a problem or a path to a goal. Make sure your headline/title clearly offers this benefit and it’s clear what goal or problem is that you’re solving.
- Create Anticipation. I’m not talking clickbait; however, you need to state something so that it BEGS someone to know more. If it doesn’t, you risk them moving on. Your goal should be to attract their attention and have them want to spend time to ingest the full information that you’re promoting.
- Add a number. Interestingly, research says that our eyes/ears are attracted to numbers. Adding them to your headline/title makes you think about the organization and limiting of thoughts (which makes the sermon/information better) and it says to the person reading/hearing it, “you have enough time to listen. Even with your busy schedule”.
PLEASE NOTE: these 6 tips will help you write better headlines and sermon titles, but please use them for the content (web page, story, sermon, etc.) that follows the title! Everyone wants what they want, how they want it, said as concisely as possible.