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The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Conversationally

By: Marketing Tango

In theory, the conversational tone should be easy, since most of us are pretty good at making conversation. However, it’s not quite as simple as, “Write like you talk.” Here are the do’s and don’ts of making the conversational voice work for you.

Do Use Contractions

If you’re old-school, you probably came up in the business world believing that contractions were evil. Contractions simply sound more natural and fluid – and contractions also let you use fewer letters and maximize that ever-important white space.

Consider the following example:

Do not wait—there is limited time on this offer!

Don’t wait—there’s limited time to act!

Don’t Write Sentences That Go on for Lines or Paragraphs That Go on for Pages

Unlike a face-to-face conversation where you have a captive audience, your communications are probably competing—with other emails, ads, banner ads, websites, etc. Writing prosaically doesn’t mean being a windbag: make your points quickly and clearly.

Do Use Personal Pronouns and First Person

Your high-school English or journalism teacher probably drilled it into your head that corporations are not people, and therefore, it’s an “it”, not an “us” or “we.” Forget this immediately. There’s nothing that sounds stranger and even more confusing than writing about the company as if it’s some weird monolith that is autonomously putting out press releases.

So instead of writing something like this:

“SmithCo and its employees are committed to customer service.”

Try:

“At SmithCo, all of us are committed to customer service.”

If you absolutely must stick with writing in the third person, at least be consistent about it.

Keep Jargon to a Minimum

Jargon is a good way to bore and alienate your audience. And Sarah Skerik, PR Newswire’s Vice President of Social Media, warns that jargon instantly tanks your credibility and, if you’re writing web content, adds nothing to your SEO.

Do Read It Aloud Once You’ve Written It

Or even better, read it to someone else. It should sound like the beginning of a personal conversation—one that has ample opportunity for the audience to engage and answer back!

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