Jan 21st, 2022
Write like you talk
by Synne Lindén
Write like you talk
Have you ever read something that sounded like the writer discovered a thesaurus for the first time? You know the content I’m talking about. It’s the articles that are unnecessarily difficult to understand. Let’s be honest. Sometimes they can even come across as a little pretentious.
That’s the opposite of what we want our business comms to do. Our goal should always be to write in a relatable voice that clients connect with.
How? Write the way you speak.
Unlearn a few rules from English Comp. 101
We all remember writing classes in school. They were all about grammar and organized outlines for your research papers. Often, the papers we wrote in these classes were stiff and academic. A common rule in our writing classes was—don’t write the way you speak.
We’ve all heard it. “Don’t write the way you speak because it’s too informal and we don’t use proper grammar in everyday language.”
For a lot of us, an academic paper could be the last time we wrote anything that wasn’t an email or a business proposal. So, the last time we wrote something of a good length, we were following these academic rules.
But now that we’ve graduated from school, we’ve also graduated from structured academic writing. Stop staring at a blank page and overthinking each sentence. Toss aside thinking of the perfect word to use to impress your reader. Clients don’t want to read a stuffy academic paper on your blog or in your business comms. It’s okay to break those rules!
So, here is your written permission—write the way you speak.
Successful content is about being relatable
If your reader can relate to your content, they will keep coming back. Whether or not your content is relatable can make or break your client engagement. For example, relatable content could be the difference between a client reading a newsletter or sending it to spam.
Relatable content is all about connecting with your audience on a personal level. To do this, you have to write like a real human being rather than an uptight corporation. In everyday speech, we use relaxed language, stories, and humor when we speak to others.
Think about small talk. Someone asks how you are and you may say something funny about the weather or tell a story about your recent move. Or think about conversations with close friends. There are always stories, laughter, questions, and fast-paced sentences.
The same rules apply when writing relatable content.
The wrong way to go about this
Okay, I’m not saying to throw all of the rules out the window. We can’t write exactly the way we speak because it could impact clarity and readability. Below are few things to avoid when trying this approach:
No slang: Slang can look a little too informal and it can also shrink your audience to only the readers who know/relate to that specific slang.
2. No run-on sentences: We often speak in long run-on sentences but it’s best to split up these long sentences to keep the reader’s attention.
3. Don’t forget to explain: When talking to friends who know what we’re talking about, it’s easy to skim over explanations or offer short explanations. In writing, always assume your reader is a beginner in the subject you’re discussing and take the time to explain things.
The right way to do it
The most important thing to remember when sitting down to write relatable content is to be yourself. That’s often easier said than done. Here are a few tactics to try out:
1. Make sure you know the rules of grammar and punctuation: Before you can break the rules, you have to know the rules. Writing in a relatable way doesn’t mean you can throw out all grammar and punctuation rules. We still need commas and a few other things.
2. Take time to talk about your topic: Talking about your topic will not only get your ideas flowing, but it will also show you the language you use while discussing this topic. If you want, record yourself talking and listen back to it as you write. Try writing about your topic the way you would describe it to a close friend.
3. Stay away from the thesaurus: Don’t immediately search for synonyms. Instead, use the word that you would use while speaking. It will be much more authentic.
4. Use short sentences: It’s easy to get trapped in a long complicated sentence with no way out. Split those sentences up to make them easier to read.
5. Always, always read your writing out loud: If you’re stumbling over your own words, it doesn’t sound like you and it probably doesn’t sound relatable.
Happy writing and remember, be yourself! What are some writing rules that you’re unlearning for more relatable content? Let me know in the comments!