What’s the main goal of your written content?
No, really. Think about it. Is it to build brand loyalty? Generate leads? Sell your product?
Unless your goal is to come across like your 7th grade English teacher, then conversational content will be your friend as you attempt to connect with your readers. Formal writing is great for essays, academic papers, and the like. But it’s not ideal for engaging and captivating readers. (For tips on captivating readers with your headlines, read my previous post.) Conversational content will give you the best shot of breaking through all the noise and making a lasting impact.
Want to transform your writing from boring to bold? Try the following changes:
Let’s face it -- most readers are flying through emails and articles on autopilot. Anything you can do to stop them in their tracks is worth its weight in gold. Asking questions is one of those tactics.
Questions are a natural part of any conversation. Notice the questions I posed at the beginning of this post? They force you to actually stop and think for a second. Suddenly, you’re not just a passive reader but an engaged part of the conversation.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Short sentences are snappy. They kick you in the eyeballs. They make an impact.
They’re also a normal part of everyday conversation. Long-winded sentences and huge blocks of text are a turnoff because they appear overwhelming. Take advantage of white space and shorter sentences and you’ll appear more engaging to the average reader.
Cut the Vocab Words
Don’t use words like “utilize” when “use” will do. Don’t use “million-dollar words” for the simple reason that nobody talks like that. Simpler words make your writing a little more natural and captivating. They’re unimpressive, but they get the point across without sounding pretentious.
Break the Rules
Stop worrying about ending sentences in prepositions. And don’t worry about starting a sentence with “and” or “but.” Formal writing rejects contractions but they’re used all the time in everyday speech. Rules are important because they give structure, but they can make your writing unnecessarily rigid. Take some selective liberties and break the rules to give your writing some personality.
Don’t Write to the Masses
Your email or post may reach thousands of people, but you’ve got to write to the individual to keep it personal. Nothing turns a reader off more than hearing “Thanks to all of you who…” Write your content to the individual (“Thank you for your…”) and it’ll feel more casual and heartfelt.
Of course, you must always remember your audience. Conversational writing will be more appropriate in some cases and less appropriate in others. The best thing you can do is develop an engaging tone and stick with it consistently across your mediums. Read your writing aloud -- if it doesn’t fit with your brand, cut it and start over!