Don’t Croak: Finding Your Ideal Writing Voice

You Clear Your Throat  Writing Voiceknow that “nails-on-chalkboard” association, the sound that makes us cringe and shrink away?  We all have our own version of it:  the shrill teacher, a droning relative, or a Seinfeld-worthy awkward guffaw.

Are you writing in that voice? 

If your content is loaded with distractions that make reading copy a chore, you are alienating your visitors just as if you were screaming or cackling.  Does your pop-up insisting on an email sign-up block my view of the article I was reading?

Match Your Voice to Your Audience’s Concerns

If you are seeking to project calm professionalism to convey trustworthiness, it makes sense to avoid too much informality or familiarity.  That said, it is equally off-putting to use language that cannot be understood.  Finding the right balance involves a clear notion of what your potential clients need to hear most, stating it honestly and plainly, and providing straightforward testimony about how you can solve their problems or add value.

A common error in “white-collar” content is using a lot of fluffy language that goes in a circle without really saying anything.  What you need is an identifiable problem statement, a concise description of how your service is relevant and helpful, and a clear call to action.

Know When to Be Quiet

In a painfully endless phone conversation, people have to stay on the line to avoid being rude.  Not so when they are looking at your website or reading your newsletter.  They can click on and off at will.  It’s vital that your content is concise enough to grab and hold attention without “over-staying its welcome.”  Unwillingness to trim content is a widespread problem.  An objective outsider can help keep things brief; choosing the most central concepts is a key distinction offered by a professional writer.

But Speak Up!

Again, a dose of attention to degree and tone is key.  Assuming you have engaged the reader and presented a compelling reason, don’t neglect the opportunity to ask for the next step!  You would be amazed how many websites fail to ask for the order or make it difficult for the reader to find contact information.

Use a Coach

Most people would squirm if asked to take a microphone and sing in front of hundreds of unknown people.  They would insist, at the very least, on careful preparation and guidance.  It’s amazing that people don’t hesitate to throw loud, inappropriate, unprofessional content out to the world.  Raise the bar…..get help!

 

Best Writing? It’s All About the Reader

Pouring over tweets, looking for inspiration to absorb and share, I found someone asking, “What’s the best writing tip you ever got?”  I reflected on college communication classes and feedback from editors and managers in the early years of my career.  Avoid passive voice?  Organize and use clear transitions?  Capture attention with great headlines?  What I ultimately determined was that none of the rules matter.

The way to be effective in reaching, inspiring, and motivating your readers is to fixate on them the entire time you are writing.

My work in corporate training taught me that you must always think like a learner.  Remember sitting in classes where the teacher was an expert in the field but was unclear or unable to convey the information in a compelling way?  Expertise is completely wasted if the communicator fails to remember what it was like not to know.  Writers – like teachers or corporate trainers – must set the stage, create context, and avoid making assumptions about what someone already understands.

Sure, it’s important to be clear and concise.  And it goes without saying that mechanics such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling need to be spot-on.  But for effective writing, there is no more critical factor than understanding and catering to your audience’s point of view.