Every morning I log into my personal email account and see a flood of messages. I see messages from blogs I am subscribed to, newsletters I have asked for, competitions I may have entered and of course messages from friends and family. Which emails do you think I would click open first?
Personal messages, of course. In this day of Facebook, Twitter, and Viber, I am delighted to receive emails from friends. Now, I’ll tell you a little secret. There are some people that I consider to be my “friends” who probably don’t even know I exist. These are the people I have never met and still I love to open their emails. People like Naomi Dunford, Marie Forleo, Denise Duffield-Thomas, Pam Hendrickson, Derek Halpern, and many more …
I am sure you recognize some of the names I mentioned above: these are popular bloggers, of course. And I consider these people to be my friends because every single blog post they publish makes me feel like one. When I see their email, I feel like they are writing only to me. That I am not a number on their list. So how do they do that? And most importantly, do you want to do this?
Glad you asked. In today’s post, I am going to show you how to write in a conversational manner so your readers feel like they are hearing from an old friend.
Let’s dive in …
#1 Picture your ideal reader
Don’t write to 537 people on your list. Write to one person. Who is this person? This person is your ideal client or customer. Not only that, it is your ideal reader who is most likely to buy from you.
Imagine them sitting across the table with you. You are sharing coffee. What would you talk about? What are the things that would be of interest to them? How would you say them?
Think about all the things you would not say. Write your post keeping these people at the front and centre of your mind. Make them feel like they are the only person getting this email. Stop writing to everyone.
#2 Address them directly
Use ‘you’ attitude in your writing instead of ‘I’. What is you attitude? It simply means using more of words like you, and your and less of I, we and our.
By addressing your reader, you consciously write things that will be of value to them. You create blog posts that would be highly beneficial and by writing in this manner, the reader will know that ultimately, they are your number one focus and not the other way around.
By writing with a you attitude you are forced to step into their shoes. By addressing them you are showing interest in their lives, and we know only true friends do that.
#3 Talk less about yourself
Continuing on the theme of putting the lime light on your reader, I recommend taking the focus away from yourself (unless it serves a purpose and we will talk about that in a minute).
Writing a blog post is not a navel gazing exercise. Your blog post is not an entry in a journal. It’s actually not about you – it’s about your readers. Instead of trying to sell all the time, try and be of service. Instead of singing your own praises, appreciate your readers. Let them know they mean a lot to you.
Treat them like a dear friend and they will reciprocate the gesture.
#4 Mirror their responses
In marketing speak, this is known as paying close attention to your prospects language and knowing the exact phrases they use.
You can also think of it as using their own words to talk to them. Just like your choice of words changes from when you speak to a toddler, a teenager, your spouse, or your boss – change your own articulation.
Match the things they say when they are highly frustrated and feel like nobody understands them. Use their words to describe their feelings when they are feeling hopeful. Make them feel like you are inside their head, that you know them better than themselves and your blog posts will never go unread.
#5 Include questions
What’s the difference between having a conversation with a friend and throwing a lecture The first one is a dialogue while the latter is a monologue. In a conversation, you ask questions, you make the other person participate. Do the same in your blog post.
Kill the monologue and turn it into a dialogue. Not only will your readers thank you for it, you will get rid of another pesky problem – getting no or very few comments. Ask a question and your readers are more inclined to answer.
#6 Write at an eighth grade reading level
The goal of your blog post is to be consumed, help solve a problem and make an impact. It’s not to show off your brilliant vocabulary and impress people by using big words. Research has shown that the average adult reads at a grade eight reading level. Unless your audience demands it, write it in a way people can understand your content. You don’t need to be high register (like Wall Street Journal). It’s fine to talk to an average person (Reader’s digest).
#7 Write short paragraphs and sentences
On the web, it just makes sense to break up your paragraphs and write using short sentences. It increases readability and people feel less overwhelmed. However, by doing this you also write in a conversational tone.
Notice how I have written this blog post? It doesn’t read like an essay. Because it is conversational. You want to do the same.
#8 Write in an active voice
“Your email will be responded to shortly.”
“I will respond to your email shortly.”
Notice the difference between these two sentences? Which one do you prefer? The second sentence is direct, more powerful and something you might actually say to someone. The first one? Not so much. The first one is written in a passive voice, the second one in an active one. Do more of the first kind.
#9 Break rules of grammar
First learn the rules of grammar, and then know which ones to break. For instance, it is okay to start your sentence with and, or but. Use contractions. Instead of writing I will, say I’ll, or did not as didn’t. That’s how you talk, don’t you? Use simple words. If you can find an easy word to replace a long, difficult one, do it. Kill the adverbs. They are just plain annoying.
#10 Inject emotion
Allow people to feel your emotions. Whether you are sad or dejected, excited or dumbfounded, frustrated or bummed, know that airing your feelings will get you closer to your audience’s hearts.
Write your blog post like a human, and not a robot. And we all know humans come with feelings. Use them.
#11 Stir the pot
It is fine to say what you really think – how you really feel. Sometimes you just need to step up and say your two cents about a tough topic that nobody wants to talk about. You want to bring attention to the elephant in the room.
It’s fine. Don’t sugar coat your feelings. Tackle controversial topics, don’t be politically correct. People want to hear your true opinion. They need to know if they can trust you.
#12 Use slang or curse words
Do you have a potty mouth in real life? When you work with clients, are you known to be a bad ass? It’s okay to be yourself in your writing. Sometimes you have to use a swear word as nothing else will do.
If that’s you, then your audience will not be shocked. You will not receive hate mail. Your readers will respect you more (But don’t be something you are not. Swearing for its own sake won’t make you look cool.)
#13 Say things only you would say
Allow your personality to shine through in your writing. Use pet phrases. Say things only you would say. You are an individual, your life experiences are unique to you. Think about how you can incorporate all of this is your writing.
People are scared of being copied – of being ripped off by other people. But when you stay true to yourself and talk about what you have experienced, nobody can take that from you.
#14 Get rid of jargon and corporate speak
Do you know the opposite of being conversational? It’s using stuffy language, being pedantic or scholarly, and generally being boring. Please don’t do that.
If people want to read scientific research or academic papers, they know where to go. They certainly don’t want to read your blog post for that purpose. Avoid been business-like. Stop using industry jargon and technical mumbo-jumbo. Do you talk like a real person? Then write like one, too.
#15 Be vulnerable
The fastest way to appear human and build an instant connection is to be vulnerable. People love to know how you make it work in spite of your own shortcomings, dramas, and things that are outside your control.
People like people who are just like them. It gives them hope that they too can be successful and happy and prosperous. When you share your wins – and your failures, you give people hope. You inspire them. You show them how it is done.
Trust me – nobody wants perfection. It just makes them see how imperfect their own lives are. Be vulnerable. Be human.
#16 Share stories
Remember when I said it is not about you? Except when it is. Tell stories about you, your personal life and your business. The ultimate goal of a blog post is to provide value to your readers. This doesn’t have to be educational or instructional all the time.
You can inspire them with your story of how you came to realize your dreams while beating the odds. You can entertain them by telling them about something so stupid you did recently that even your 5 year old was completely mortified.
Use stories to connect.
#17 Talk about water cooler topics
Friends love sharing gossip. Friends love to be the first one to break news in their circle.
You can do the same thing. Your blog posts don’t have to be serious all the time. They can talk about Kim Kardashian breaking the Internet or Bangladesh kicking England out of the World Cup (That’s Cricket in case you were wondering).
It’s perfectly okay to indulge in a bit of gossip and even more so to cover trending topics. As a side benefit, making references to global events is actually good for getting people to click your headline so you should be doing that anyway. For the purposes of this article though, go ahead and giggle with your readers about inappropriate shots of a famous celebrity. Having fun will not make you less of an authority.
#18 Give an example
Ever notice the friend who gives you the most practical tips and relevant examples, becomes the go-to person for that particular topic? You can do the same for your readers.
Don’t talk about theory, strategy, or big picture thinking all the time. Give people actionable steps to get to their goal. Give lots of examples to make everything super clear. When you do a really good job of explaining something, people prefer coming to you.
#19 Write a rant
You know what real people do? They get mad sometimes. They get fired up because they are sick of dealing with something or witnessing something and it goes on and on.
Perhaps you can relate? It is totally fine to let out a rant once in a while. If something is bugging you in your industry or if you are tired of all the myths and miscomputations others perpetuate, then let off some steam. It will make you look human.
#20 Act like a friend
Do you talk to your friend in the same way as when you talk to a prospective client or a partner in business? I am guessing you don’t. When you talk to a friend you are much more relaxed and are being yourself. You certainly don’t pretend to be someone you are not. You should do more of that in business.
Don’t be overly professional. Let others feel as if they are talking to a friend. Bond instead of building authority all the time. Have a sense of humour. Are you good at telling jokes? If so, do that in your writing. The whole point is to be someone others feel comfortable listening to.
These are my top tips to write in a conversational manner
Now I want you to write your next blog post in a way that the recipient can’t help but feel like they are the most important person in your life. That they feel connected to you and can’t help but place their trust in you.
When you make them feel like they are hearing from their best friend, or get the feeling that they have known you forever, you know you have done your job well.
Now go do it and share with us in the comments below how you have approached your readers!