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How do you feel when someone is talking at you? It's not quite the same as someone talking to you, is it?
When someone talks to you, they might be using your language or even matching your rhythm. By contrast, someone talking at you seems like they're more interested in what they want to say and less on what you want to hear. Talking at your audience creates a communication environment where the transmitter jams the receiver, so even if a two-way exchange is possible, it's not inviting the exchange.
Unfortunately, much of business communicaton today falls in the talking at bucket.
We recently had two colleagues that lead teams of writers talk to our marketing department about conversational communication. Mary Ann Hickland and Brock Pierce shared examples that show how communicating conversationally equates to writing something the way you might say it. It’s a key ingredient of content marketing, and how you build a relationship with customers. In other words, to engage customers, you talk to them - not at them.
Part of their presentation included a 10-step guide to conversational writing. I'm very happy to share it below because I found it helpful. I hope you agree!
Mary Ann and Brock were very clear on one point - writing conversationally is NOT sloppy writing, nor an excuse to use poor grammar, nor a license to be unprofessional, cute or silly. We should make sure the "meat is still there" in terms of content, but just reframe it so it’s accessible. For a final check on whether you're talking at your audience, just stop and read what you've written out loud.
There's no better way to check and see if it's actually something you'd say. If it sounds awkward, then change it.
I know many of you are terrrific writers, so I invite you to add to this list with a comment or two. Please share your ideas below. As always - thank you for following!
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