How your Mum or Charlie will improve your writing

If you are wondering how you can be more conversational in your writing, here’s a tip. Think of someone you care about, and write to them. If you’ve attended any of our workshops, read our books or seen our video tips, you’ll be familiar with ‘Hi Mom’

When we’re working with a client who is struggling with stiff and formal language, we use ‘Hi Mom’ to help them be more conversational.

Here’s a pretty clunky sentence (and it’s real):

“We have scheduled training modules to improve our Associates ability to heighten our overall Guest experience and mechanisms to solicit Guest feedback on ways in which we can meaningfully improve.”

Now imagine sharing that piece of information with your Mom. Say it out loud, beginning with ‘Hi Mom’:

“Hi Mom. We have scheduled training modules to improve our Associates ability to heighten our overall Guest experience and mechanisms to solicit Guest feedback on ways in which we can meaningfully improve.”

I’m pretty sure you couldn’t read that out loud with a straight face. We simply don’t talk like that. And we shouldn’t write like that, at least not if we want to be more conversational when we prepare promotional copy or write presentations and speeches.

Bob Leveson, one of the most renowned copywriters in advertising history, had a twist on Hi Mom. Bob had this advice for new copywriters: “Start off with ‘Dear Charlie’. Then continue by saying ‘this is what I want to tell you about’. Picture that the person you’re talking to as a perfectly intelligent friend who knows less about the product than you do. Then, when you’ve finished writing the copy, just cross out ‘Dear Charlie’.”

Try Hi Mom, or Dear Charlie. Next time you settle down to a writing project, imagine you are writing to someone you care about. Write to your mum. Write to Charlie. I guarantee your writing will be more conversational.