Write Like You Talk
There are times that you might find yourself writing about something and then editing your work only to find that it is very impersonal…clinical even. Many would rather take a conversational tone, but sometimes this comes off as lacking in professionalism. An analytical tone might be great if you are discussing something very intricate and deep, but it may not be the best way to write copy. I myself am guilty of this, perhaps in large part because of the different writing jobs I hold. One of my jobs requires an absolute minimum of hyperbole and a maximum of political correctness, while the other often requires a wide range of sales techniques. At times I feel a bit like a superhero who has problems reconciling his or her separate personalities, but the point is that we all fall into this trap from time to time.
How to Write Like You Talk
If anyone has ever told you that you have a silver tongue or that you are very persuasive when talking, there is a good chance that you can transfer that skill into writing. If you are already an all-star writer, then you are doubly fortunate as you might be able to reach a new level of your game by writing like you talk. Unfortunately, it is not exactly as simple as it sounds.
The first problem is that there is some truth to the fact that writing in the same manner as you would talk may or may not be entirely appropriate. Still, it does give a good jumping off point for making a connection. Connections are one of the most fundamental skills that any salesperson can utilize, yet impersonal and analytical texts are often completely free of the pronouns and anecdotes that cause people to feel as if they are making some sort of tangible connection.
A good goal would be to find a balance between the way you would converse with customers or new co-workers and the way that you would normally write. There is one group of people that do this routinely: speech writers.
Writing a Speech Might Be a Good Idea…or Not
Speech writers, especially those working for politicians, are often considered to be top flight intellectuals because they have the unique skill required to create texts that blend the analytical with the more personal, rapport-filled conversational qualities. Of course, they might bend truths or distort facts as well, but putting those issues aside, the truth is that this ability really is unique because it puts the analytical and quantitative elements in small doses and encapsulates them in easier to swallow sugar-coated qualitative elements that are very conversational in quality.
I have included a few examples of what I am talking about for your benefit:
- Quantitative: Such-and-such has an annual sales volume of 110,000 units, making it the number one product in its class by sales volume. Larger sales volumes mean more robust upgrade cycles and a greater chance of future support. Customers rate such-and-such higher than the competition in subjective tests conducted by independent parties.
- Qualitative: Yesterday I tried out such-and-such and I was blown away! I was like! Wow!! This rocks man! I like how it works, and I’m jazzed about spending time learning how to use it better. If I love it this much, just think of how much you are going to love it.
- Putting them together: Yesterday I tried out such-and such, and I was amazed. Not only is a great product, but it is the number one product in its field with a ridiculous sales volume that ensures that the company will be around to answer my support questions. I also feel confident in buying such-and-such because I know that they are successful, and the time I spend learning how to use it will pay off in future versions. I love such-and-such and I know you will too!
As you can see in the third example, by putting the quantifiable points into the middle of more conversational qualitative parts, you can get better results. So the question many will have is: how can I find my voice?
Finding Your Voice With a Pen or Keyboard
If you find that you have a lot of trouble finding your voice in this regard, I have one final suggestion. It goes back to the question that career therapists and high school counselors have been asking for years: what would you do with your time if you won the lottery or inherited a vast sum of money. Note that the question is not about how you would spend your money, but rather how you would pass your remaining years. Most people choose a subject that interests them, and that’s where I suggest you start. Sit down and start writing about something you already know a lot about, and try to prepare a speech that would persuade a live audience.
Taking this route should ensure that you have all of your facts and ideas crystalized well before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. This skill will probably be essential for anyone looking to strike a balance between the factual and the personal. Remember that a speech may be given to many people, but listen to a few politicians speak and you will hear the word ‘you’ escape their mouths more often than almost any other. Why? It is because they are attempting to create a connection. Do not shy away from the word ‘you’ but remember to keep a nearly office-friendly tone and stick in statistics and facts where appropriate, and you should have a winning combination. Knowing the facts before their speechwriters begin just makes the entire process more streamlined and easier to switch gears when necessary.
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