January 2, 2021

write conversationally to engage your audience

Hey, pull up a chair, your favorite beverage, and let's consider how to write conversationally to engage your audience. 

You ever get one of those emails that, within 8 seconds, you delete because it's impersonal, fake, pitchy? Yeah, me too. 

But you know something? I'm happy to get those kinds of emails from time-to-time because I learn a lot about how not to write if I want to engage you.

You and I both know how we feel when we're reading something from a person who knows how to write conversationally. We're engaged because we feel like that person is writing with only us in mind. 

Yet, to write conversationally can be a challenge.

Write Conversationally? How?

If you were sitting at home enjoying some conversation with your best friend, how would you talk to that person? 

Lots of jargon? All business? Super formal? Suit and tie, starched shirt and underwear? Ouch! Did I really type "starched underwear?" I did.

Anyway, you get the point, right? If you're writing's too stiff and formal, you're going to have a hard time engaging your audience. And you definitely don't want a disengaged audience.

So let's look at some tips to help us both write conversationally.

Write Conversationally Tip #1 - Narrow Your Focus

Narrow your focus. Imagine you're writing to one person. Forget that you've got 5,000 people on your email list. What's it gonna sound like if you're writing to all of them at once? Not too personal.

Example: I want to thank those of you who voted for me. It's a privilege to be recognized by my peers.

How does "those of you" sound? Like you're addressing a large group of people. It's not conversational or personal, is it?

How about this instead? 

I want to personally thank you for your vote. It means the world to me to receive your recognition.

This time "thank you for" and "your" make the message personal and conversational, as if you're addressing an individual.

I'm going to pour another coffee. Would you like one, too?

Tip #2 - Stop Trying To Impress 

You don't need to impress your recipient with complicated words and jargon. 

When you're having a relaxing conversation with your best friend, do you talk like a rocket scientist? Well, I suppose if your best friend is a rocket scientist, you might. But if you were conversing with me, that definitely wouldn't work. 

So, when writing to your audience, use the words they'd be using if they were describing their challenges to you.

Tip #3 - It's A Two-Way Thing

Remember, a conversation is two-sided. How does this sound to you? 

Sign up for my emails so I can send you all of my latest posts. 

A little self-centered, no? It's about me, not about you. It's about my emails so I can send you something. There's no benefit to you for getting on my list.

Instead, how about this? 

Start improving your writing today to engage and delight your audience. Join us now.  

See the difference. It's all about benefits for you and your audience. Even the call-to-action uses join us, making you feel like you can become part of a team or group

Tip #4 - I'm Not Your College Professor

A lot of writing reads like it's a thesis. Academic writing never feels personal. 

This can be a challenge if you've only done academic writing. The solution is to start writing about other subjects. 

Choose subjects related to your personal life outside of work and unrelated to science, technology, engineering, or math.

Do you work out? Write about that. Do you like to bake? Write about that. Do you enjoy hiking in the mountains? Write about that. Do you love binging on Netflix? Write about that. 

When you write about your hobbies and interests outside of your work, you'll begin honing your ability to write conversationally.

The weekend was way cool. My wife and I went on our favorite drive and stopped to eat at the diner where we had our first date 32 years ago.

Tip #5 - The Power Of Questions

Do you know what questions do for and to your reader? 

They make him/her feel engaged, and they stimulate his/her thinking. That's what you and I want, isn't it? 

Questions hook your readers. Questions get your readers to commit.

How would like to have more readers who are committed to reading through and responding to your writing? Yeah?

Then use more questions because questions are powerful.

Tip #6 - Shorter = Better

I'm always amazed when I read blog posts by writers who want to get their names into the Guinness Book of World Records for writing the world's longest sentence, with the goal of accomplishing the feat before they pass off the face of this earth, so they can leave this record as a legacy to posterity. 

Whew! That's one long sentence. What are your thoughts on that? Were you out of breath by the time you reached the end of it?

Shorten up your sentences, please. Your audience will thank you for it. 

We're not in school anymore. We're not being graded on the length of our sentences, nor on the difficulty of the words we're able to use.

So, lighten things up. Use simpler words that anyone can understand. And use shorter sentences. Your audience will be more engaged because your writing will be easier to read.

Write Conversationally Tip #7 - Ignore The Cops

Please stop worrying about the grammar police. 

Now!

See what I did there? That's not even a sentence. It's one word. But it's how we actually talk when we're with our best friends. 

And it accomplishes what I want it to accomplish. It emphatically commands you to stop worrying about the grammar police. That's what I wanted. Mission accomplished. 

You can start sentences with "but," "and," and "or," too. These make your writing easier to read. 

And more interesting too. But don't worry. Ignore the cops. And they'll go away. 

This is kind of a no-brainer, eh? Duh, yeah, Mike. See what I did there? 

I used "duh," and "yeah." They're interjections. And it's okay to use them on occasion. Or not. It's up to you, but your writing will be a lot more natural and casual if you throw 'em in once-in-while. 

Writing well isn't about grammar rules. Stuff the rules. Write well, yes. But write clearly and with your personal flair. Write to engage. Write to connect. Write to one person in your audience. They'll be delighted you did. 

Your personality will show and you'll have a highly-engaged and happy audience.  

Start improving your writing today to engage and delight your audience. Join Us Now.

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