happy brain with rainbow

This is Your Brain on Creative Copy

By: Ann Wylie, President, Wylie Communications

March 9, 2020

“When should you use humor in a speech?” a young speaker asks an experienced orator.

“Only when you want to get paid,” the veteran answers.

When should you use creative material in your social media messaging?

Only when you want your readers to pay attention.

Creative material:

  1. Grabs attention.

Meet your Broca’s area—a small part of your brain located in the frontal lobe of your left cerebral hemisphere. It’s your body’s language control center.

You can thank your Broca’s area for helping you sort through the equivalent of 174 newspapers, ads included, that you and everybody else gets bombarded with each day—without having to process every word.

Remember that old Far Side cartoon?

what we say to dogs cartoon gary larson

Source: Gary Larson, The Far Side

Your Broca’s area is Ginger: not paying much attention to most messages—until something really interesting comes along.

Well-worn phrases like “a rough day” are so familiar they don’t activate your Broca’s area. Plain old ‘splainin’ doesn’t do anything for it either.

Want to cut through the clutter of competing messages? Activate readers’ Broca’s area with wordplay and other creative techniques.

  1. Keeps that attention longer.

Here’s a finding that will surprise absolutely nobody: Creative sentences encourage reading more than boring ones, according to research by Suzanne Hidi and William Baird.

Hidi and Baird studied creative sentences like these:

Here, in contrast, is the first sentence in a recent news release on BusinessWire:

“A leading, clinical-stage natural killer cell-based therapeutics company today announced that the company will be presenting and conducting one-on-one meetings at a number of investment and healthcare conferences in the month of March and April.”

Did you read to the end? Of course not.

And that’s the deal. Creative material keeps attention longer, throughout the passage or article and over time. Indeed:

So, want readers to pay attention to your message? Be sure to use creative elements.

Ann Wylie is president of Wylie Communications. She works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. Read more from Ann about making your message more creative here, and get all of Ann’s tips when you subscribe to her email newsletter,

Copyright © 2020 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.

At The Social Shake-Up