How many times have you misunderstood a text, email or comment on social media? I sure have.
How many marketing posts have you scrolled past because – aside from possibly unexciting visuals – the words ‘just didn’t grab you’?
That’s because language is loaded with energy!
I know, it sounds pretty woo-woo, but it’s true, too. Your words carry – and influence – emotion. And I’ve previously written about the power of words.
Airy-fairy as it may seem, this energy is made up of real linguistics stuff like sounds, syllables, rhythm, word order and inflection.
Of course, words you hear are much easier to interpret. You have the voice, facial expressions and body language to help you decode the meaning. But written words? They can be a little trickier…
So, how can you boost the energy of your writing to get your message across so your readers FEEL it? Try these:
- WHO ARE YOU?
Your brand, I mean. If your brand was a person, what personality would they have and how would they talk? Getting clear on this helps you define your brand’s tone of voice – which helps you keep your message consistent.
TIP: Brainstorm some words you feel fit your brand persona. Is it fun, quirky, reliable, trustworthy, sophisticated, authoritative?
- WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?
Know your audience: What do they want? What words do they relate to? Are they formal or casual, young or older? You wouldn’t use baby boomer-speak if you’re talking to millennials, for example. And you probably wouldn’t use a lot of slang if your market is corporates or government.
TIP: Check out how your audience engages with similar brands online and vice versa. Can you see patterns in the language they use: words, slang, sentence structure, etc? Then find your own way to speak your audience’s language.
- MAKE IT FIT FOR PURPOSE
Think about the purpose of what you’re writing. Is it to educate? Entertain? Both? You can go even deeper and ask: WHERE will my writing appear? In print, on social media or my website? As spoken words in a video script? Your answers will help you decide what words to use and whether a formal or informal tone is best.
TIP: Use a thesaurus. Type in the word you’re thinking of and get a list of alternative words with similar meaning. Try thesaurus.com But don’t go overboard with fancy or uncommon words. Keep it simple or you’ll lose your audience.
- GET IN THE RHYTHM
Language is musical. It has a tempo, ups and downs, pauses. Again, think of your purpose: what do you want your reader to FEEL? Are you wooing them or telling a story? Try longer sentences with more adjectives (words that describe nouns) to give your copy a flowing, lyrical pace. Are you creating a sense of urgency or giving direction? Try short words and sentences to pack more punch.
TIP: Mix it up with long and short sentences so your writing flows better. Read your words out loud to check how it flows.
- SPEED UP, SLOW DOWN, STOP
Similar to rhythm is pace – which you can also use to seduce or create urgency. How? Use punctuation. Yep, good ole commas, full stops, colons, dashes and semi-colons. See how I used punctuation in the italic text to change the flow of words? The dash tells you more related info is coming. Commas and full stops tell you to pause or stop, giving you time to absorb the message. The question mark makes you ponder. Go on, try it!
TIP: Check an online grammar guide if you’re not sure. Just be aware, there are differences between how US and Australian English uses punctuation.
- WHO ARE YOU?