How To Keep Your Readers From Being Distracted

Keep Your Readers From Being Distracted





When we read someone else’s content, it’s easy to spot the friction. We stumble across a phrase. We misinterpret a reference. We get confused and reread a sentence. Or worse, we have to go back a few paragraphs to pick up the flow.

Whenever that happens, the writer has failed to communicate with clarity.

So, how do you prevent readers from losing track?

How do you keep readers engaged?

“Think of creating a smooth reading experience like maintaining a bicycle chain”…..says Henneke 

  • When your chain gets muddy, it starts to squeak and rattle.
  • Pedaling becomes harder. And perhaps the chain might even drop off.
  • For a smooth riding experience, you first remove the dirt from your chain.
  • When editing your content, you do exactly the same.
  • First you remove the dirt from your content—you eliminate wordiness and replace weak phrases. And then you apply writer’s lube—the transitional tricks for a smooth reading experience.




Here are 6 types of writer’s lube to help you reduce friction and keep readers engaged from Henneke….


Trick 1: Drops of light oil

  • Just like drops of oil make your bicycle chain move without friction, transitional words make readers glide through your content.
  • Transitional words smoothen the reading experience because they explain the relation between two sentences.
  • You can use transitional words at the beginning of a sentence to explain the relation with a previous sentence, or to connect two parts of one sentence.
  • Examples of transitional words are:
  • And
  • But
  • Or
  • However
  • In contrast
  • Because
  • For instance
  • So


Trick 2: Changing gears

  • Just like in cycling, in writing you often move up or down a gear.
  • In your introductory paragraph, you’ve empathized with your reader, you’ve explained you understand his problem and you’ve promised to help him solve it.
  • Now, you want to shift up a gear to share your tips.
  • To indicate the start of the section with tips, use a short and engaging question:
  • Ready to get started?
  • Sound good?
  • Shall we begin?
  • Addressing your readers with short questions makes your content conversational and engaging, and you encourage your reader to read on.


Trick 3: The dog fang

  • To prevent your chain from “falling off”, Henneke uses what she calls “the dog fang” (a rubber dog fang. The dog fang prevents the chain from falling off.)
  • Your reader requires a similar dog fang to prevent him from losing track and clicking away.
  • Keep your reader on track with short phrases like:
  • Let me explain why
  • And now comes the best part
  • Not only that
  • What’s more
  • Even more importantly
  • Legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman calls these transitional phrases seeds of curiosity.-These phrases are especially effective at the end of a paragraph to encourage readers to start the next paragraph.


Trick 4: Connectors

  • The secret to moving from topic to topic without losing your readers or listeners are word connectors.
  • Word connectors are words that are repeated in subsequent sentences.
  • This trick can be used anywhere in your writing, but is particularly useful for metaphors.


Trick 5: Pronouns

  • Pronouns (words like they, it, he, her) play a similar role as word connectors, but you have to be careful what or whom the pronoun refers to.
  • Ambiguity confuses readers and makes them stop to consider your message. And as soon as readers stop, they consider clicking away, too.
  • Take away ambiguity, and readers glide through your text…….Effortlessly.


Trick 6: Industrial strength lubricant

  • Your content requires a mix of tricks for the smoothest reading experience. And you know the strongest lube to keep your readers hooked?
  • That’s the use of seductive subheads.
  • Make sure your subheads arouse curiosity or promise a benefit for reading on. And if you’re explaining a series of tips or tricks, then number your subheads to provide a cue to readers where they are in your content.
  • When your reader’s mind starts to wander off, a seductive subhead entices him back.
  • It encourages people to keep reading, and helps them move to the next topic without friction.



Creating a smooth reading experience requires a singular and obsessive focus…….On your readers.  Empathize with your readers, and understand which squeaks and rattles are slowing them down.  Take away ambiguity, and eliminate confusion.


Read your content through your reader’s eyes, and work on making the flow of your words as smooth as a brand-new bicycle chain.



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38 Replies to “How To Keep Your Readers From Being Distracted”

  1. A very interesting post Joan. I love your ideas and remember the times I edit my writing. When I was in University I was editing all the time, assignments and I always wrote too much to begin with.
    Thanks for sharing the advice and knowledge with us.

  2. I’m a great fan of Henneke and read her blog posts as soon as I’m notified. The dog fang, Joan, is one trick that I wish writers of lengthier posts would use more, or at least a sub-heading so that the reader does not get lost. Shorter and crispier sentences help too. Trick #4 is where I find myself editing my first draft the most.

    1. Yes Henneke is awesome! I agree with you that shorter and crispier sentences definately help as well 🙂 Thanks for your comment Vatsala 🙂 Much appreciated!!

  3. Love the dog fang.. can just picture Cujo following your mouse 🙂 also love how you used the bike analogy to get your point across.
    Editing is key in a blog post. When writing for my creative business, I would so much prefer doing a video post, because my fingers can’t keep up with my brain 😉

  4. One of the first things I thought of in reading this post, is how important it is to have a conversation with the readers. All the tips and points made in your post, point to exactly that, Joan. We want the reader to have a smooth and engaging time reading your post and by including them in the conversation, we are doing just that. For people who do not see themselves as “writers” I think you’ve offered some great ways to engage and keep readers reading your post from beginning to end!

  5. All good points here, Joan. I especially like your references to transitional words and short, engaging questions. This helps us remember to plan what we’re writing and keep the focus on our readers’ interests. Thanks for sharing these tips and keeping us on track!

  6. Hello Joan,

    Thanks for sharing these 6 tricks 🙂 Love trick #1 and honestly just remembered the meaning of pronoun after reading your post lol. I already forgot what I learned in grade school 🙂 Cheers!

    ~ Sonny

  7. These are great tips Joan.

    I am so guilty of starting to write about one thing and before I know it…off in another direction.

    When I go back and start to review what I have written I look at it and say to myself “What is this jibber jabber”.

    I will be using some of your tips in the future.

    1. Hi Shellie,
      Thanks so much!! That is so awesome that you are in the right gear with your writing!! Appreciate you 🙂

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