If your content is dry and stuffy, or boring, it’s likely the reader won’t get past the first paragraph. Readers crave a more human touch and to give them that you need to learn how to master conversational writing so that they can relate to, understand, and enjoy your reading what you’ve written.
What exactly is conversational writing?
If you think about it, writing in a conversational tone means breaking pretty much all of the rules you learned in English at school. Because if you want to resonate with your audience, you have to learn how to write as if you were holding a natural conversation with them.
Today, information is much more accessible and personal than it was pre-internet. We’re tuned to search for information online where it’s readily available and written in a way that we understand.
Imagine that your ideal client is standing in front of you – how would you speak to them? That’s conversational writing.
Do’s and don’ts of conversational writing
Like all types of writing, there are a few rules you should follow. After all, if you write as you speak, your writing will likely to be filled with clumsy statements that could leave your audience feeling bamboozled.
You don’t want an article full of slang, fillers or repetitive words. When most of us speak, we use a lot of unnecessary fluff that won’t look good on the page.
Here are my top 7 do’s and don’ts to help you master conversational writing:
1. Write to your target audience
The key to conversational writing is to know your audience. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no-one. Know who you’re talking to – don’t get too hung up on specifics, but if your clients or customers fit into a particular criteria, then you’ll find that you can more easily tailor your language and tone to them.
2. Keep the language simple
When we write, it can be easy to overcomplicate things with big words and fancy language. Resist!
Don’t ask your audience to ‘consume our cocoa-based delicacies’ when all you need to say is ‘try our delicious chocolate’! You wouldn’t say that if you were face-to-face, so don’t do it in your writing either.
Take out any words that don’t need to be there.
3. It’s all about ‘you’ and ‘I’
Remember that point about your target audience? When writing conversationally, it’s all about you and your ideal client. You’re not talking to a whole lot of people here – just one. So use words that make them feel like you’re speaking to them personally.
4. Use contractions
It is pretty difficult for you to read when I am using language which you can not relate to, is it not?
That’s not how we speak – in real life, the above sentence should make use of contractions, like this:
It’s pretty difficult for you to read when I’m using language you can’t relate to, isn’t it?
Using contractions in this way makes your writing much more human.
5. Don’t write as you would speak
OK, so this might seem like I’m contradicting what I said earlier – but bear with me, and I’ll explain!
If you were to record yourself speaking, you’d hear a lot of stuff that wouldn’t translate well in written text – there would likely be a lot of regional dialects and slang, repetitive phrases and words, several ‘um’s’, ‘erm’s’, and ‘argh’s’… you get the picture.
Use your own voice as a guide, sure, but leave out the fluff before you hit publish!
6. Use questions to engage
It’s natural for us to ask questions when we are in conversation because it encourages a response. Asking questions of your audience when you write in a conversational tone lets your reader know that you are directly addressing them. It also gives them space to think about what you are saying. It feels much more like a two-way conversation because it encourages them to respond to you – whether that’s in their own mind or with a real written answer.
7. Tell a story
People love stories – they appeal to their emotions and engage sensory triggers. If you can write a story that your audience can relate to, AND make it so that you are using conversational writing to make it personal to them – bingo!
I hope you find my tips on how to master conversational writing helpful. For more great copywriting advice, download my free eBook ‘Kick Your Content Into Shape.’
About me: I’m Emma a copywriter and content manager based in Harrow, London. I have a passion for writing and for creating amazing content for brands that have a strong sustainable, social and ethical mindset.