But something strange happens when we type and we can find ourselves writing in our:
- Super Professional Voice
- Ranting Teen Voice
Most people want something that’s in the middle ground: professional but with a splash of personality. I’m going to take a peek at these two voices and see how we try find that middle ground.
The Super Professional Voice
This is the voice we save for our bosses, our solicitors and our insurance brokers. I have a lovely friend, she’s funny, friendly, genuinely thoughtful and bakes me muffins. Meet her and you warm to her instantly.
But when she emails her estate agent, all that fluffy blueberry goodness has gone. Suddenly she sounds like this:
“I appreciate your assistance in the matter and am keen to negotiate further on the price considering the work which you assured would reach completion, has not come to fruition.”
Nope, not getting a muffin out of her any time soon with that voice I guess. Now in this instance, this approach works because she doesn’t need to get to know her estate agent personally, and whilst she is always polite, she’s not looking to build a cosy relationship here.
You, however probably do want a more personable relationship with your visitors and customers. Perhaps you’re used to typing in this style of voice, particularly if you’ve been in an office environment and it’s hard to shake. You probably don’t speak like this in day to day life and it’s not the type of image you want to put across to your visitors.
You want to be comfortable with them, personable and treat them like friends…but be careful not to swing too far the other way:
The Ranting Teen Voice
When you’re typing your web copy you’re not typing whilst people watch every word you put down (unless you work somewhere very creepy). So you can feel alone, you can feel safe and you can feel a little like you are writing your diary.
You probably don’t want to do this.
To illustrate why I’m going to include an excerpt from one of my diaries.
Sunday 28th January. Age 13
“Had porridge this morning. It didn’t taste of chilli con carne as it usually does (something to do with the microwave). Went swimming this morning and guess who got picked for a demo? Me! French was okay. I enjoy it a bit more. I was annoyed with John this morning because he bombarded me with snowballs. At lunch I played netball in barefoot and someone rammed into my foot and my toe, under the nail started bleeding. Lisa pissed me off just by being in the same room.”
No-one wants to read that.
If you have a blog as part of your site it’s very tempting to rave about the great things and rant about the things that aren’t going so well, but if that’s all you do then it shuts out your audience because they don’t know you that well to care that much. They’re interested in you in relation to your product or service. They want to know that you can do what you say you can do, and not how angry you are that the guy you dated for 2 weeks updated his facebook status before texting you… (unless your business is dating or facebook).
Finding the balance
Getting that balance is difficult, and it takes a bit of time before you find the right voice for your website, but these tips should get you over that initial hurdle of sounding like you:
Read it out loud
It’s simple, but it works. After you’ve written your web copy or blog post, read it out loud. Does it sound like you? Does it flow? Is there a phrase in there you wouldn’t normally use when you speak to people? If so, repeat the sentence out loud and replace the word or phrase with something more comfortable to say.
Read it to someone else
You’ll spot some good things when you read it out loud, but if you read it out to someone who knows you, they’ll be able to tell you if there’s anything still not sounding quite like you.
Do it in reverse
Sit down with a friend and ask them to ask you questions about your business whilst you record yourself. The trick to this is to not think about being recorded and to relax so it might take a few takes to get the one that sounds most natural. Once you have something where you’re relaxed and genuine, transcribe it. This takes a while but if you’re really struggling to write how you talk this will help you make the transition from the voice you have to the voice you want to have on paper.
Don’t worry too much about it being perfect first time, writing regularly will help but these might help you get over the initial hurdle of sounding like you.
Did this help? Are you struggling with any other website writing problems for your business that I can help with? Let me know in the comments below!
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