Delightful advice. It's amazing how much the Internet has influenced conventional style. It's been hard for me (as a former book editor) to make the transition to the style of online writing, but your advice will surely make it easier. Thanks!
The Art of Conversational Writing in Business
Web-based businesses are built on words, not brick and mortar. How do you get off the assembly line of pre-fab biz writing and sound like yourself? Turn your writing into a conversation to attract your right customers. Here's how.
Web sites, email, blogs, Twitter, Facebook — everyone’s a writer these days. For many entrepreneurs, having a strong writing personality can be a siren song for calling in the right customer base. After all, Web-based businesses are built on words, not brick and mortar.
The tricky issue becomes: How do you sound like you when you write? How do you create a Web site and blog that produces profitable connections? The more naturally you write, the better the experience for everyone involved.
Here's something important on the topic of finding your voice:
You already have a voice.
The next step is to harness that perfect, unique voice and put it into your writing.
So, we can really call this: How to Sound Like Yourself When You Write and Not Sound Like Your Copy Came out of Some Biz Writing Manufacturing Plant.
A few things happen when you start writing in a natural, converational style. The process becomes easier, the flow is more conversational and everyone gets along better. (It's always easier to be yourself in lif) And … you may even like it.
So, here are some tips for conversational writing.
Rule #1: Write the way you speak
If you find yourself writing sentences you wouldn’t say out loud in a million years, scrap ‘em. If you’re stuck, pretend you’re speaking to your perfect customer. Create an archetype and write to that person, or a collection of a few archetypical customers. Say your words out loud if that helps and even record it (most cell phones have recording devices) and write that down. When you write how you speak you are literally catching your voice.
Remember: If you throw your personality out the window when you sit down to write (which many of us do when we sit down to w-w-w-write), you're gong to sound like everyone else out there. That's not going to differentiate you from your competitors. People are going to buy what you and only you have to offer. Most people invest in emotional connections, especially in service-based businesses, in short: We want to do biz with, and buy products from people we like, people we can relate to. This isn't a popularity contest, however. It's about reaching your people.
Rule #2: Use grammar-of-the-day
If you’re at a grammar crossroads, go with conversational grammar over Strunk & White or AP rules. Again, we’re having conversations here, not applying for a copy editor’s gig at the New York Times.
Example: Instead of writing With which hand did you pick up the tennis ball? go with Which hand did you pick up the tennis ball with? Yes, we can end sentences with prepositions.
This is not to say I approve in any way of this kind of thing: Me and my partners would have went to the end of the world for your success … I'm not promoting bad grammar here!
Rule #3: Know when to add the needed <strike>dirt</strike> details — don’t withhold
Make sure you offer information to support a detail, concept or idea when it’s needed — just as you would in a conversation. As you revise your writing, imagine the place where a live person might interrupt you and ask for more details or an explanation. Example:
Instead of: I’ve discovered three unique ways to help business folks prosper and move to the top of the mountain in their working life. To quote Dale Carnegie … Write something more like: I’ve discovered three unique ways to help business folks prosper and move to the top of the mountain in their working life. They involve discipline, a keen sense of play and wearing pink shirts, but we’ll go more into detail on that a little later. There’s this Dale Carnegie quote …
Whoever’s reading this will want to know something about these three unique ways ASAP. Dale C is less important. And by addressing the unique ways up front (being withholding is not a great writing tactic by the way) you get to express yourself in a true voice, just as you’d do it in conversation. In short, your audience can trust you’ll be hanging with them and anticipating any questions, and answering them along the way.
Being yourself = authenticity = building trust. Just as it works in the in-person world.
Rule #4: Have some fun for goodness sakes
Relax. Be yourself. Enjoy this new way of doing business that embraces authenticity and a natural writing voice. Transparency is in. Yet so is appropriateness and respect — as in, you may swear like a sailor with your pals but maybe not with your clients – but you already know that.
Let yourself play around, experiment and enjoy the process of letting your voice out in your writing. You never know what — or who — you may discover along the way.
Learn more about the author, Tatyana Mishel.
Comment on this article
Posted by Amy Adler, Salt Lake City, Utah |
Feb 26, 2010
Posted by Terra Paley, Los Angeles, California |
Feb 26, 2010
Very nice. I especially appreciate your reminder to write in your own voice.
King: "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
Hamlet (III, iii, 100-103) --The Bard
Posted by Elvis Arias, Jersey City, New Jersey |
Feb 02, 2011
just what the doctor ordered
- business writing
- blog writing
- web writing