How To Be More Authentic In Your Writing

How To Be More Authentic In Your Writing

Let’s be honest. Writing doesn’t come easy to most of us. It can almost feel like a chore, a time-consuming task that takes you away from the things that you believe will boost your business.

The unavoidable truth is the way you write and share your message is crucial to the success of your business or even for you personally as an employee. Being an effective communicator, both in the written and spoken word, is an invaluable skill.

Sure, you could hire a content or copywriter to write engaging and persuasive content to level up your business marketing (if that’s you, let’s chat). But if you’re not running your own business or you don’t have the funds to pay an expert writer, this simply isn’t an option.

I often get asked how I write in such a way that is so distinctive and reflects my voice. I’ll let you in on a secret – I have no idea! Finding my voice as a writer didn’t come overnight. It took taking up a regular writing habit to uncover an effective flow that works for me. It took developing opinions on topics and issues that matter to me to unearth the voice within.

Writing in your voice, whether it’s an email, your LinkedIn profile or your website ‘About’ page, is about authenticity. To be authentic is to be genuine, original, real, credible. Authenticity builds trust. And if you want to build some level of a relationship with your reader (as a customer, colleague or contact), trust is key.

Easier said than done, cut through the fluff words and get to the practical stuff. What can I DO?

Okay, I hear you! Grab your notebook (or for the digitally-inclined, your phone) and write this down. You don’t want to miss this.

How to be more authentic_blog graphic for Pinterest

 

So, how can you be more authentic in your writing?

 

Write what you know

This is a tip I’m almost certain you’ve heard before and one to hold on to, there’s so much truth to it! As a reader, you can tell when you’re reading an article, blog or book that lacks authenticity because the author hasn’t lived out the topic they’re writing about. It can be tempting to want to write about all the irresistibly attractive topics that people are itching to know more about at the time.

Resist the temptation to be purely driven by likes, shares and views. Instead, write as though you’re writing for that one person who needs to hear from your personal experience to forge their path in your area of expertise. This authenticity will pay off in the long run!

 

Write the way you speak 

Now, this is one that I’ll admit I didn’t always put into practice when writing. This was especially true when it came to writing for work, confined by the traditional delivery methods of a professional services firm. Though I would have stumbled over the words if I attempted to read a highly technical report aloud, it did mean that I mastered the art of business writing. You win some, you lose some, right?

Business writing aside, think of the last website you visited or the last book you read. Was it easy to read? If so, you could probably imagine the author in front of you saying those same words as though you were carrying out a conversation. That’s precisely what it is, conversational writing. Not only is this writing style a heck of a lot easier to read, it also creates the belief that the words are genuinely from you.

The next time you write anything (I mean ANYTHING), read it back aloud to yourself. How does it sound? If it sounds natural, you’re good to go!

 

Write to tell your story

We’ve all got a story to tell. No one can share your story the way you can.

Sharing your story requires a level of vulnerability that can’t be achieved by any other piece of writing. It’s also a good way to get you in the habit of writing as yourself and no one else. By documenting your life experiences (the good and the bad) and what you’ve learned along the way, you’ll find that you discover your true writing voice.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that everyone loves a good story! Use storytelling to hook your readers in and you’ll leave them wanting to read more of your stuff.

If you need pointers on how to tell your story, check out this article on 7 Simple Ways to Tell a Compelling Story.

How to be more authentic_Summary Infographic for social sharing

Try these writing strategies the next time you write an email or a social media caption and let me know:

  • Do you feel like you’re being more authentic?
  • How was it received?

Leave your feedback in a comment and if you enjoyed this post, please share the love by sharing with others!

How To Keep Your Work Emails Professional

How To Keep Your Work Emails Professional

If you’ve been working in any type of office environment or have been a business owner for any number of years, it’s likely that you’ve sent thousands of work emails or business emails in your lifetime.

In fact, some say that the average worker sends around 40 emails per day! In my opinion, that’s overkill but certainly not unbelievable. In an effort to CYA (you can look up the acronym) and keep a paper trail in this sue-or-be-sued world, emails have become a necessary evil in the average work day. So we may as well get our work email etiquette right.

After sending and receiving countless emails as a consultant in professional services (where CYA is crucial to survival!), I can confidently say I’m now well versed in proper work email etiquette. Now, I don’t fall for the “knowledge is power” mantra, so I’m going to share my knowledge with you today and save us all the pain of receiving emails that make us what to hit “delete” before even reading the second line!

From my experience, I’ve encountered five no no’s that people (including myself) make in writing professional emails at work and learned some effective strategies to keep your email etiquette on point:

#1: Not including a greeting

Or worse yet, including a greeting and leaving off the receiver’s name!

I’ve received business emails from people opening with a “Hi” and then they get straight to business. You know I have a name, right? It’s even in my email address if you need a clue! I’ll admit, it creates a degree of distance in my language in future emails to that person.

Try this instead:

Open the email with both a greeting and the name of the person receiving the email. Including the recipient’s name personalises the email and makes them feel like they’re being seen. They’re also more likely to give you a favourable response.

I get that there are times where email correspondence with a colleague continues to the point where it resembles a text message trail. No judgement at all. At least make the effort to include a greeting and name in the first email and the subsequent 1-2 replies. It only takes an extra 2 seconds, you can do it.

#2: Beginning the email with “Hey guys” or “Hey girls”

This may fly in a less corporate work environment but please, before you send a work email with this greeting, consider your audience.

Maybe there is one male among 10 females receiving the email. In that case, “hey girls” may not be so appropriate. Trust me, I’ve seen this done before, multiple times! Or perhaps the 50 year old mother of adult children on the other end of your email doesn’t appreciate being called a “girl” when in fact, she’s a grown woman.

Try this instead:

Use a collective gender-neutral greeting. If you’re sending the email to 3 or less people, include each of their emails, make them feel valued. If you’re sending to more than 3 people, here are some other greeting options:

  • “Hi team”
  • “Hi all”
  • “Hi everyone”
  • “Good morning/afternoon/evening”

You could even open with a creative or witty greeting to catch their attention, if you’re that way inclined.

 

#3: Writing “URGENT” in the subject line

There’s nothing that deters me more from opening a work email than when I see the word “urgent” in all upper case letters. Call it cheeky, but my immediate inclination is to make them sweat and keep the person waiting just a little bit longer before they receive a response from me.

Including “urgent” in the subject line sends the message that your needs take priority over that of the person on the other end of your email. That’s not likely to go over well.

Try this instead:

If the person you’re emailing is a mere few feet away, get up and walk over to speak to them in person. You can easily convey the urgency of the matter through conversation. Plus, the chances of them actioning your request are higher if you personally deliver that request.

Give them a call if walking over to their desk is not an option. Similar to speaking in person, this is likely to get you better results than an email subject line beginning with “urgent”

If the above two approaches are not an option for you, then try marking the email as urgent using the email tools available rather than actually writing the word itself. This indicates the urgency of the matter within the email, without you having to explicitly say it.

#4: Sending a detailed email without subheadings or not enough line spacing

My body temperature is rising and an overwhelming feeling washed over me just thinking about it! Chances are, the person on the other end of your email also feels this way. If you want your business email to actually be read…

Try this instead:

Any designer would agree with me in saying that white space is your friend. So are bold (or underlined) sub-headings! Setting out an email packed with information in sections makes it easier for the reader to digest it bit by bit. Insert a line space between each key point and you’ve got yourself an email that is (almost) guaranteed to be read.

Think of your email as a pizza. Who would want to tackle an entire pizza as a single chunk of flat bread? I sure wouldn’t! But when I see that delicious, cheesy, carbohydrate-rich goodness (before my dairy & gluten free life) cut up in easy to bite slices, I’m ready to eat it all down to the very last bite.

You know what would make your email even better than sub-headings and line spacing? Shortening it. Before sending, read over the email. Or better yet, ask a colleague to proofread it. Are there any sentences which don’t add value? Maybe what is currently an entire paragraph could be said in one sentence. Trust me, the other person will thank you for it.

And, if you’re sending a company-wide email and feel a little intimidated by the task in front of you, not to worry. Send me a note so we can chat about how I can help you write that all important business email.

#5: Treating your email correspondence like text messages

Contrary to the belief that using shortened words and slang equals “staying relevant”, work emails are not the place for them. No matter how much actual substance your email contains, using words like “ur” or “brb” can devalue your message as it comes across as unprofessional.

Try this instead:

To keep your business email professional, use complete words, words that one will find in the Oxford Dictionary. This is especially important when emailing clients! Keep the shortened words and slang to text messages with friends and instant messaging with colleagues.

There you have it. With your now heightened awareness of these 5 “no no’s” and ways to avoid them, your work emails are sure to be more tolerable in the future! If you’ve skipped the content and scrolled to the bottom of the page for a summary – hello, your summary awaits below (you can Pin it for later):

Infographic summarising blog post

Have you found yourself doing any of these 5 things when writing emails? Maybe you think I’m being pedantic. Let me know by leaving a comment.

Don’t forget to share with your social networks too!