Lots of people wonder what went wrong when they publish what seemed like an amazing article, only to find that no one clicked it, read it or shared it.
The truth is that no matter how compelling your topic may be if you fail to engage your reader in the subject, no one will read it. The right keywords and all the SEO magic in the world will not work if your style turns people off.
Now you may be saying to yourself, “but I know this topic matters because all of my clients are talking about it.” Chances are you’re right about the topic but wrong about the delivery.
You have all of your amazing education to thank that for that.
The real challenge most people have is that writing in a conversational tone goes in opposition to the grammar, syntax and writing rules we were taught as kids. Those same rules that got your dissertation passed or your book into print, work against you when you market your services.
The way to fix this is to leverage what you know and begin speaking to your readers.
That requires a conversational tone.
When you do that, a real connection is possible between you and your readers. That imaginary wall between you is removed, and you get one step closer to speaking directly to your audience. If you consider the equation we work from related to how sales actually happen (see this piece for a refresher), you will soon realize that the key to writing in a conversational tone is that you establish trust with your readers.
And trust is the one thing that will separate you from every other person offering the same services you do. When we buy, we buy from people we trust. End. Of. Discussion.
In my years of doing this kind of work with clients, I have come to realize that the biggest hurdle most clinicians need to overcome is stepping into a relationship with a potential client in their marketing. Most clinicians have no issue being in a relationship with a client once they’re onboard. It’s the pre-relationship (the one you form through your marketing) that confounds most people.
The very good news for you if this is your challenge is this: you already know how to solve it.
The answer to getting a more conversational tone in your writing is to approach your articles like a conversation NOT a term paper.
That means, changing things up.
Below are 8 tips to turn the tone of your articles away from formal, stodgy, and unapproachable to relatable, connected and sincere. By doing that, you’re guaranteed to connect with more readers and actually get your articles read by the audience you most want to connect to.
Conversational tone is created by doing the following things:
- Change your pronoun. Formal writing instructs you to write in the third person (he, she, it…) and instead write using 2nd person (you). When your sentences are written directly to the reader, they mimic conversations you would have in person or on the telephone. They also speak directly to the pain or stress your clients are under and allow the reader to see themselves in your words.
- Conversational tone flows more naturally. Beginning sentences with words like “and, but, or, so” etc. is more accurate to the way we actually speak. Our verbal sentences flow from one thought to the next, often without a natural end or stopping point. By approaching your stream of conscious thoughts in this way, you allow your instincts around “what to say next” to come out naturally and with less hesitation around what to say and when to say it. This is genuinely more like the way we talk. Because of that, when you write in this way, readers attention flow more naturally from one sentence to the next. Before they even realize it, they’re at the bottom of the article and have read the whole piece.
- Write in short sentences and use short paragraphs. This is another high school grammar rule we’re going to bust into oblivion. Writing in a conversational tone needs the support of visual flow to make it work. Not to mention, there’s tons of research about eye fatigue and what holds people’s attention when reading online. The impact of short sentences and paragraphs is even more critical if you’re interested in getting mobile readers to view your articles. Consider what a 5 sentence paragraph actually looks like on your phone- it’s a wall of text.
- Even single sentence paragraphs work- just not for the entire piece. You can see several in this article and if you have read this far, my point is already made. 🙂
- Use your skills around mindfulness before you start writing to set your intention. You can do this easily by closing your eyes for a few minutes before you write, and pull into your consciousness the ideal client to read your article. Imagine as you’re writing that you’re speaking to that person. Ask yourself as you write and edit, what that client needs to read to get your point. Do you need to include examples or short stories to make your point? What’s the reason that client would even read this piece? Make sure you address those concerns throughout the entire article.
- Eliminate all usages of jargon or industry language that readers may not understand. Remember, you’re writing with the goal of connecting with your reader. Any language that’s too detailed, or requires the dictionary or the DSM-V to understand needs to be re-written in a more relatable way. For example, instead of using the word “rumination” consider using the phrase “obsessive thinking” or “can’t stop thinking about”. In most cases, those phrases will still convey the same message but will do so in an easier way to the layperson reading your articles.
- Read it out loud to yourself when you’re finished and BEFORE you publish. It’s surprising the number of errors, missing words, or confusing sections you will find just by reading it out loud. Your voice will naturally pause where commas belong (add those). You will hear other pauses that could be the end of a sentence (consider making those). And you will hear transitions in your thoughts (consider making those into new paragraphs too).
- Finally, don’t take it too far. You are, after all, a professional. Ums and ahs don’t belong in your blog even if you would utter them in a spoken sentence.
Writing in a conversational tone is one of the biggest industry skills that successful marketers have in their toolkit. If connecting directly with your readers genuinely matters to you, take this guide out for a spin on your next article and see how you do.
And if getting your formal writing into a more conversational tone is hard, you’re not alone. It’s one of the very subtle yet taxing skills we all need to learn, yet it goes against most of our formal school training. In this area practice is key.
Ready to up your game, here are three additional articles to help:
How to develop an elevator pitch so you know exactly what to write about (and reach the clients who really need your help).
And finally, don’t forget about writing essentials like tone and voice. Here’s why they matter.
Need help? We can help make this all a whole lot easier by looking at your marketing goals and seeing the best ideas for you to write to + advice on how to publish more confidently. Let’s schedule a private call to explore your needs and see how working with our team can turn things around for you.