Let me hear your voice: writing conversationally

Writing for the web should be done in a conversational tone. While that’s an easy thing to say, it’s really hard for most communicators to get beyond the fact that we were taught to write “professionally” and that conversational feels wrong for any work communications.

Why is conversational important?

With all of the information that’s available at the tap of a few keys, people have started expecting their information to look different.  They want it to be easy to read and they want it to be engaging. They want to feel like they know who is writing; like someone is explaining something specifically to them or telling them a story, instead of reading a factual explanation.

As a small business owner, if someone is reading what you’re writing, whether it be on a blog, on Twitter or on Facebook, you are slowly letting potential and current clients get to know you.

If you are friendly or funny, that will come through.  If you have sarcastic wit or find the intricacies of certain topics, that will come through.  The more your audience gets that sense of you, the more they can connect with you.  The more they connect with you, the more they feel as if they know you.  The more they feel as if they know you, the more inclined they are to work with you, buy from you, and recommend you.

How do I do it?

The easiest way to write conversationally is to start with a story.  Practice by writing a story about yourself.

For example:

- How you met your spouse

- The best trip you ever had

- How you chose your career.

Once you’ve written it, read it out loud to yourself and ask yourself if it sounds like something you would say.  

Another tactic that can help is for you to record yourself telling a story and then type out the transcript.

Try both and see which one feels more genuine and true to who you are and what you want people to know about you.  The more you practice, the more natural it will become!

If you try it, I’d love to see it.  Email me and I promise I’ll respond and let you know what I think.

Also, I’d love if you’d leave a comment below and let me know if you agree that writing conversationally is important and whether or not you have a hard time doing it.

Are you a part of your content?

Social media is about conversations. Hopefully, multiple people will take part in these conversations but even if they don’t, it should still sound like a conversation.

Formal vs Conversational

While formal writing can be seen as a more respectful way of writing, I also think it’s a dryer and duller way of writing.  The only formal texts that *I* read are ones that I have to read. A text written to tell a story, to share your thoughts and insights, to make a person feel like they can hear you talking to them draws people in. The stories, the small personal details, and the personality you infuse into all you write makes people feel like they’re getting to know you.  The more they feel they know you, the more likely they are to start entering into the conversations, and the more likely they are to come back.

People want to feel connected to you

Many of the successful social media accounts for big brands tell you who is manning the accounts. Why? Because they know we know there is someone behind the words, and though every communication doesn’t need to be attributed, when it seems more like a personal detail or a response to a question, we want to know who is talking to us.  We want faces and we want names. 

Where should you start?

For many, giving up the really formal way of writing is hard.  Practice. Can you write a bio without it sounding like something you would have written to apply for a job? Can you tell me something about your business so that it sounds like we’re meeting at an event instead of on your web site?  Play around with texts, read what other people are writing and practice.

Connect with your readers by being you

For our regular readers, can you tell the difference between a post written by Karen as oppossed to me? Have you started to learn how we talk and communicate with our audience differently?

Do you have a hard time giving up old “formal” habits? What about your writing do you feel connects with your readers?