Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact, I am who I am, and that is just the way it is. What you get here is the same version you’ll get over the phone, over coffee, or in a business meeting.
To tell you the truth? It’s too much work to be anyone other than me.
I’ve got a confession though.
When I started writing, that wasn’t the case at all.
I turned into some Shakespearian writing hack, only with about 50,000 less words than old Willie sported in his vocabulary.
Gee, I hope that didn’t bother you I called William Shakespeare, Willie.
See, that’s what I mean. If he were here at my desk, and I was writing about him? I’d still call him Willie, or Will, or maybe even Bill.
I mean no disrespect at all. If he found it offensive? I’d call him what he wanted, of course.
Even though I’m easy-going and lay back, when I began writing I was either too rigid or swung the opposite and became this flowery conversationalist.
Decades ago, I copped a major offense at my creative writing instructor who said I was writing too flowery. I tried to change my style during the writing course, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get it in my head.
You know what I did?
I asked myself, “Why am I beating myself over the head with this stuff? Why don’t I just write like I talk? Why try to be someone I’m not?”
Little did I know it back then, that’s what the market would look for in writers years down the road.
Here’s the deal. If you’re going to write about a new headset for instance, what sounds better…?
“The XL5 Super Boom headset sports a rigid body for durable use. The 2.5 cm built-in woofer perfectly balances the high treble for a pleasurable listening experience anywhere.” We’ve coated the earpieces with a special moisture resistant polymer to prevent premature unit breakdown.”
“Whether you’re jamming in the park while jogging, rocking out in the library studying, or drowning out your mom’s oldies while in the car; the bass will sound like it’s rattling the fenders off and highs that put you on stage with the band. The XL5 Super Boom won’t break if you drop them either. We’ve tossed them on concrete from 25-feet over 100 times and they still rock! Sweat on them all you want while working out, we’ve moisture proofed the grills and speakers, so you’re good to go.”
Bottom-line? Write more like you speak than you would if submitting your college thesis. Because, it isn’t your English prof you’re writing for, it’s your buying customer.
Then, be prepared to offend the grammarians in your life.
Proper grammar is best practice, but we do talk in sentence fragments, start our conversation with “but, or “and, and use slang you won’t find in the dictionary.
Of course, there are certain writing environments which lend themselves to lean either way, and I’m being pretty casual here. The point is, people respond more to a casual tone than one they feel they are being talked down to, or swimming in technical or corporate speak.
I’ve seen comparisons time over, including my own experiences where conversational tones beat out tech talk.
Years ago, I wrote an e-mail campaign for an organization. One of the board members thought it too casual. This person tossed down the white glove, re-wrote it, and submitted it to the board for review.
Guess which one the board wanted?
My campaign is still used to this day.
The board member who re-wrote my piece is articulate, educated, and has an art background… A very capable person.
But, for the project we were working on, to get the best results it called for a fun, casual tone.
Here’s a tip to help overcome this Shakespearian phenomena when sitting down to write.
Imagine you are sitting across from your mom or a friend. Then, just relax, and write like you’d talk to them. Imagine them listening to you, nodding their head, getting every word.
You might even imagine them asking questions about the topic. If you get one? Mark them down. Those questions might well be your customer’s questions. If so, you’ll need to answer them in your content.
When you’re done, go back to fix up glaring grammar errors, take out as many instances of “that” or words ending in “ly,” and other similar unproductive boo-boos.
Try this technique on your next content piece. Taylor it to your industry and the level of your readers, but stay under the eighth-grade reading level. If you can get to the fifth-grade, even better.
It’s not about dumbing down or writing unintelligently.
It’s all about being understood and identifying with your customer or client.
Hey, even those fancy suits gather at the coffee pot or water cooler and talk in a casual tone about their lives or company events.
You’ll dramatically improve your readership if you write conversationally. Of course, there is a lot more to content writing than tone, but this is a foundational element which… sets the tone… pardon the pun.
Until next time…
Live like you’ll never get hurt, dream like nobody is watching and above all… try-try-try until you succeed!