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About this thing called voice.

How to portray yourself when writing for your organization

Your voice is more than the lilting sound that spills from your lips when you speak, or the yowling wail you inflict upon fellow patrons at the karaoke bar. It’s how you portray yourself when writing ad or web copy, or posting to your Facebook page or blog. With millions of people engaged online through websites and social media, finding the right voice is crucial to keeping you from falling into the pit of irrelevance.

So here are a few tips to help you craft a voice that identifies you in a favorable way:

Don’t be a crab.

Chronic negativity is a fun-sucking energy sapper, and people tend to avoid these personality types like the plague. Your writing reflects your personality, too, so take a walk, get some sun, walk a dog, or go to the happy place in your head before touching a keyboard. You don’t have to go overboard with the cheer. Find a happy medium between kindergarten teacher and bail bond agent.

Write the way you talk.

Some people turn into instant pontificators, littering their writing with words like sycophantic, multitudinous, and rectitude with wild abandon. You aren’t defending a thesis; you’re trying to connect with prospective clients and social media readers on a personal level. Write as though you are talking to them. Ease up on the use of slang unless you’re a rap star, and don’t promise more than you can deliver.

Don’t write:

Selecting Bill’s Carpet Service will guarantee a home saturated with floor coverings that repel frigid pods, and cut your utility costs in half.

Do write:

Bill’s Carpet Service offers carpeting and floor coverings that are easy to clean, warm up cold feet, and are priced to fit your budget.

Think about the questions you’d like to be asked.

Imagine yourself in a room full of prospective clients or blog subscribers. You have the podium, but they are asking questions to get a better sense of you or your business. It’s an exceptionally bright group, so think carefully about what they might ask.

  • “Who are you or what is your business? Why should I care?”
  • “How will buying your product/service, or following your blog or Facebook page solve a problem or improve my quality of life?”
  • “What makes you different from the legions of other blogs and websites competing for my attention?”
  • “Why are you wearing that ugly shirt?”

OK, the last one was from the chronically crabby guy in the back of the room, so we’ll ignore it. But the point of the exercise is to answer every inquiry in an intelligent and conversational way. Don't scare away your audience with $10 terms they have to Google search to understand. Don’t give the impression that you don’t know much about anything, and thus have a high potential to become a giant waste of time.

Make people smile without being frivolous.

Prospective readers and customers are smart – scary smart. They found your site or blog because they’re looking for a special something you may be able to provide. Make their day by injecting a bit of cheer, while giving them what they want. Don’t try too hard with cheesy jokes or snarky comments. Make your words a joy to read. Pull them through your copy with scenarios and stories that help them identify with you. Hold their attention. Write like someone you’d like to befriend, or at least get to know better. Be personal.

Mind your grammar.

Proof, proof, proof, and proof again, is the copywriter’s hellish mantra. That means keeping an eye peeled for commonly misused words and grammatical boo boos. Make sure you know the difference between:

  • Your and You’re
  • Their, There, and They’re
  • Loose and Lose
  • Then and Than

Writing flubs seem to jump off the page and slap your readers in the face, and can portray you as lacking intelligence. Proof, proof, and proof again. Repeat as necessary.

When it becomes overwhelming, contact a pro.

Copywriters are paid to write copy. We understand what it takes to connect to your audience. Don’t lose sleep if writing isn’t your strength. Hire a professional, like the copywriters at IdeaBank Marketing. We can help you make your point in a way that makes you approachable, knowledgeable, and 100% human.

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