You know how sometimes you read a blog and it sounds professional bordering on uptight? I’m afraid my blog sounds like that too often. I like James Altucher’s blog better than mine. Here’s an excerpt from his March 27 post. Just under a picture of him with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, you read:
I don’t think Craig wanted to talk to me. For one thing, I smelled.
I woke up late and rushed out to get to the “Women Entrepreneurs” breakfast where Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist was speaking.
There were about 40 women there, Craig, and then me. I crashed the breakfast.
I had some questions for him. But he kept angling away from me. Don’t think I can’t read the body language, Craig!
I’ve seen James speak at a conference. He’s rambling and personable. I am not always crazy about the rambling, but I love the personable. I aspire to the personable.
When creating content for your online products, services, and marketing materials it can be easy for us to become stale, boring, and out of touch with your audience (or mine) — to the point that they can no longer relate to you (or me). I hate that. So here are some ideas we can use to be more human in our content (or let our humanity shine).
Tell Your Story
Starting from your customer’s perspective, tell your story with them in mind. You can speak to them from the voice of a customer yourself. After all, why did you create the products or services that you did? Did you do it because you needed them yourself? How did you discover the need for your product or service? Why you? Stay in the perspective of the customer during the story and they will relate to your offerings better.
Don’t Be Pretentious
Instead of using jargon and “corporate” speak, talk to your audience members as if they’re your equals and you’ll become more human to them. You should do this because they are your equals, even if they don’t know as much about your product of service as you do. It will also give you a chance to show your personality to them. While you do want to be a thought leader and a teacher, you don’t want to appear as a know-it-all and boring.
Stay up-to-date on your industry so that you can remain relevant. Don’t stick to the old ways of doing things long after it’s not being done any longer. Pay attention to what’s coming down the pike and you’ll always stay on top of your niche and be relevant to your audience.
Use Plain Language
Speak to your audience as if you’re talking to a good friend. Write how you talk. No need to use bigger words than you would normally use. If it helps, get some voice to text software and talk your blog posts and content. I write on a Mac and if you double tap the fn key, a mic will pop up and you can dictate. It works pretty darn well. Not perfect, but…
RANT: I’ve used the Dragon software, both PC and Mac versions, for years, and they consistently disappoint. Editing the transcript can take long as dictating. And each iteration they’ll advertise something like “30% more accurate than before.” That may be true, but they’re still below the minimal acceptable threshold for accuracy. This is true if you buy the most expensive versions or the cheap ones. I’ve tried several versions of both.
Focus on Your Audience
No matter what you are writing, blogging, vlogging, and doing, it’s always supposed to be about your audience. They need to know what’s in it for them, and to keep the focus on them over yourself. Instead of seeking to glamorize yourself and put yourself above them, put them on a pedestal and make it all about them at all times.
Make Each Word Count
Once you finish writing a piece of content, edit it for extraneous words. Pare it down so that your writing is concise and to the point. Try writing shorter sentences instead of long-winded sentences. In addition, don’t make paragraphs too long and keep each blog post to one narrow focus. This is such a struggle for me. I have a degree in English literature and went to graduate school in English lit. The writing’s not better, it’s just different, and I fall back into old habits. My WordPress plugin is always telling me to shorten my sentences, stop using big words. I do what I can.
Keep One Voice across Channels
Regardless of which channel you’re promoting your content on, it’s important that you know what your voice is. The tone, voice, and feeling of what you put out to the world should feel the same whether they read it on your blog or read it on LinkedIn. You need to be mindful of context, of course, but you want to sound like the same person. In literature, if the text tone/language is too different, we assume that someone else wrote it. You don’t want to sound like someone else is writing for you.
Include Appropriate Images/Imagery
With any content, you can get your point across easier if you use images. Sometimes a concept is just easier to express with an image and other times the image just helps set the mood and tone for the entire post.
You can incorporate more humanity and personality into your content by remembering who your audience is and who you are. Seek to be yourself, while also delivering great content to your audience. If you have other suggestions for keeping it helpful and simultaneously keeping it real, please comment and share.