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How to write conversationally
Don’t write—tell. The best way to get started is not to write at all—but to speak.
Ideally, record yourself talking about your topic with a friend you know and trust. That way, you’ll avoid most of the self-consciousness that comes when you get out a voice recorder and try to record yourself talking to the air.
Then play back your recording and just listen to what you say. Take notes. How do your sentences sound? How often do you break the rules of formal grammar? I bet it’s all the time. So forget formal grammar. How often do you say something that in retrospect sounds totally gitty? Pretty often too, probably. So figure out what you wish you’d said, and use that instead. Write like you talk, but with the benefit of lots of time to choose your words. It’ll be a lot easier to read—because people read with an internal monologue. When you write conversationally, they can hear your words flow.
You should already know that clarity trumps persuasion for making sales. In fact, to borrow a metaphor from direct-response expert Dean Rieck, your copy should be like a shop window—completely invisible, affording a perfect view of the thing you’re selling.
But as with most important things in life, that’s easier said than done.
Fortunately—as with most things in life—much of the mystery can be removed by adopting a system that takes care of the basics. So let me introduce you to my Four Keys for writing clear, shiny copy that affords prospects the perfect view of whatever it is you’re selling.
Key #1: Conversational style
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that people don’t buy from websites—they buy from people.
And I’m sure you’ve also heard that people seldom buy from people they don’t like and trust.
Which is why hyped highlighter copy doesn’t tend to work. There’s no real personal connection, because it doesn’t read like anything a person would say—certainly not a person you’d be inclined to like or trust.
The same goes for verbose, puffed-up “corporatese”. No one talks like that—and if they did we’d assume there was something ludicrously wrong with them.
The solution is to write like you would talk.
Simple, right? So simple you probably reckon there’s no need to read the rest of this section—but you’d be wrong.
Because actually, writing like you talk is hard, and you’ll likely fail at it to start with. That’s because you have to make a shift in your thinking before it will click for you.