Tag: content writing

Do You Lose Your Voice When You Write?

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I am not suggesting that you suffer from a strange side effect of writer’s block.  I am referring to our tendency to lose our brand identity when we write books, speeches, promotional collateral, opt-in products, website copy, etc.  Have you ever read some of your own content months or years later and thought it does not even sound like you?  Have you watched one of your keynote presentations and wondered why it did not feel authentic? Have you reviewed your website copy lately and thought, “Is this really me?”

Just for fun, let’s call this phenomenon Writer’s Laryngitis (WL).  We will define it as a condition resulting from authors or speakers deviating from their brand, their rhythm, and their personality because they are trying too hard to accommodate their perceptions of their audience.

Are you addressing industry mavens and CEOs and instead of being your clever and engaging self, you end up delivering a stoic and lifeless presentation?  What if the demographics of your readers are predominantly male or female, do you get too in touch with your masculine or feminine side in an attempt to establish rapport when in fact your disingenuous tone turns people off?

These may seem like dramatic examples, but on a much smaller scale this happens more often than you realize.

Mild to Severe WL-like symptoms:

  • You find yourself stuck trying to write about content you coach everyday, or you try to mimic expressions and concepts that do not come easily to you.
  • You stumble for just the right words to explain your own services and products.
  • When you receive your own Opt-In product emails each day, are you unable to see your reflection in them?
  • Your personality resembles slacks and a nice sweater but your correspondence wears a three-piece suit
  • When listening to your own recorded tele-seminar script you sound more rehearsed than the conversational tone of your in-person consultations
  • A new client or colleague tells you that based on your previous correspondence and content, you “seem different” in person

In-Home Remedies:

  • The next time you talk with a potential new client on the phone, record yourself on a digital recorder.  Are you explaining your services the same way in print?  Chances are your audio explanation was more engaging and persuasive.
  • Put your promotional collateral and sales letters side-by-side with your web copy and see if they are consistent in tone and messaging
  • Read your manuscript chapters aloud to yourself. If the words do not flow easily for you, then simplify and replace it with your everyday diction

Professional Treatment:

You may have a more severe condition of WL (or lack the time to cure yourself) and I recommend you seek the advice of a second set of eyes.  Chances are you are too close to your own condition and self medicating may not be the answer.  Work with a collaborative writer or editor to help you with the consistency and tone of your messages.  After only a couple of consultations and reviewing your existing content, a writer specializing in voice duplication can create impressions of you on paper.

Here’s to getting better soon!

If our ears could talk. What your audience is saying about your tele-seminar.

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Tell me something new.  Give me a tool or strategy that did not occur to me.  I want to walk away feeling as though I traded my time for value.

Have you ever picked up a “7 Strategies” or “10 Principles” type book and scanned the table of contents or flipped through the book hoping to find a gem or knowledge nugget that could be an a-ha moment for you?  You are not alone.  We all want to learn more and with the accessibility of information online and our need for instant gratification, it appears as though we are commitment phobic when it comes to purchasing products and making the time to sit quietly and actually read them.

The Answer: the tele-seminar.  I prefer to speak and learn in bullet points with a story or two, and I retain more information through auditory means.  Give me a concise format with clear explanations and I am a fan (or follower) for life.  Those were the motivating factors for why I started signing up for any tele-seminar that I thought might teach me something, spur my creativity, or increase the value I bring to my clients.

What I found was that some of these classes added value and others just appeared to be a means to obtain more names for a mailing list.  For those of you who are motivated simply by the latter, may this serve as a wake up call because your audience is brighter than you give them credit for.

Planning to create content for your tele-seminar?

Here are some of my observations, not as an expert creator, but as an avid, engaged participant.

•    What grade are you? Rate your own content.  Are you providing guidance for amateurs, intermediates, or advanced participants?  Consider your audience when you decide what to share.  For instance, is this a follow up to another call or live speaking engagement?  Have you covered a lot of the material in your newsletter or ezine which they already receive?  You can always break up your sessions into different levels which will keep the beginner coming back, while it respects the more advanced student’s time.

•    What’s on your mind? Solicit questions prior to the call.  By asking for questions in advance, you not only pre-qualify the existing knowledge base of your caller, but you personalize the seminar.  Anyone who took the time to send in a question will make it a point of not missing the class.  When you send out the reminder email it would be great to see what questions you have already received which further peaks the interest of your audience.

•    This is a story about…. Please do not read from a script.  Notes are great, but a script is too much.  The audience can tell and they will perceive you as an amateur.  This is your content, your passion, and they are listening to you because they believe you to be the expert.  Step up and speak from the heart and the mind.

•    And the Oscar goes to…. The other side of that issue is when the facilitator sounds as if he/she is either a television product spokesperson or drank too much of the Kool-aid.  Be yourself, please.  Most participants in a tele-seminar are turned off by the fully-animated hard sell.  Add value in a smart, relaxed yet engaged manner.

•   I see clearly now…. Not all of the audience will be strong auditory learners, therefore if you have content that lends itself well to a worksheet, send it out with the email reminder for the call.  Taking notes and filling out sections of a short tool-kit will not only help retention but it will be a tangible reminder of you, the call and your expertise.

•    Seen but not heard. Offer the webinar option.  The idea of using up cell phone minutes or incurring long distance charges on their phone may not be the most economical for some of your listeners.  Being able to listen to the call from a PC or laptop is a great alternative.  Although it limits input from the audience, webinars allow you to have more people on the call who would normally not participate.  More ears and eyeballs is the goal, isn’t it?

•    What was that again? Record the session and send it out to those who participated.  They may have been driving, preparing dinner, or just simply missed a concept and want to go back and review a portion of the call.

As a future fan of your tele-seminars, I ask you to please, concentrate on delivering gems and your expert status will be well-deserved.

The Best Concise Writing Tip I Ever Learned

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Ever read a blog, an article, or an entire book and thought, “Wow, the author could have told me that in a few bullet points, a couple of paragraphs, or without those extra 100 pages”?

I learned the most basic and most critical tip for how to write more concisely in my English class back in middle school. I had to write a story about a personal event and was given only a time limit. When the class was finished the teacher asked us to count the number of words in our story.  I wrote about 1,000 words and was feeling very proud of myself, as if I had accomplished a great feat.

The teacher told us to take that same story and write it with HALF the number of words.  I did not believe it could be done, and my ego told me it was a perfect story just the way it was.   Reluctantly I started crossing out all of the unnecessary words.  When I recounted my words, I was surprised that I was able to cut the length in half and still tell a good story.

Once again, the teacher told us to cut that second version in half.  This time it was more difficult and I was forced to think of ways I could replace entire phrases or sentences with fewer words.  I was honing my writing skills and I didn’t even know it. When my 250-word story was finished, it was much better because I had carefully chosen words that kept the story interesting.

Note to Self: Writing and editing can be a very cerebral and complicated process, but don’t let it overwhelm you.  Go back to the basics, and back to the 7th grade: Count your words and start to see what you can do without.  It really works and it also respects the value of your readers’ time.

P.S. This blog was originally 566 words and with two attempts I was able to reduce it to 314 words.  To view the first version, click on the link below.
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