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 downloaded any free resources from our store, 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 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.
These thoughts were prompted by an email we received this week from our friend Linda Daley at Daley Progress. She passed on a blog which included a recollection of Bob Leveson. Bob was one of the most renowned copywriters in advertising history. He was one of the original Mad Men who launched a creative revolution on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue in the 1960s.
He had this advice for new copywriters: “Start off with ‘Dear Charlie,’ then say ‘this is what I want to tell you about. Make believe that the person you’re talking to is 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’.”
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.
Neil Everton has distilled a lifetime’s experience with some of the world’s top news organizations into his Media Mastery training aids for anyone worried about talking to reporters. The video, books, e-books and workbooks are available in the Podium Coaching online store.