“You can’t write like you talk. It isn’t professional.”
There are places where you can write like you talk
[And yes, I know it’s as you talk, but I’m in informal ‘mode.’]
Your friend may not know it all … after all
John’s book, Content DNA, recently launched in print and digital.
It is packed with useful information.
If your reputation is built on the words you write, grab the book!
Sally-Anne Watson Kane
I find Sal refreshing in much the same way as John Espirian: helpful, no game-playing, and good at what she does as owner/operator of On Time Typing, Editing and Proofreading.
Since she’s in Australia, I’m trying to figure out a way to make a tax-deductible jaunt to visit. Er … to l-e-a-r-n. Ha!
Australia’s been my dream since I was 16 years old. In 2000 (Tee hee).
Let’s dig into Sally-Anne’s advice on this whole write-like-you-talk thing:
Great topic, Kathie!
I use everyday language in my written communication (e.g., emails) but keep it grammatically correct and without abbreviations for a formal audience (e.g., a client or potential client).
Formal emails sound the way I speak when talking to a client.
They are professional.
When emailing my contractors or colleagues, I may even use slang. With these groups, I can be informal. I can also use a little humour, but only when I have known them for a while.
I don’t proofread emails to contractors and associates, but always check those to clients or potential clients. They must be clear, concise, and to the point.
They can’t contain any typos, and, importantly, I delete any humorous or comments that my ‘formal’ audience may consider not entirely professional.
So … my view: as long as your style of verbal communication (i.e., the way you talk) is appropriate to a particular audience, you can definitely write like you talk with that group.
Here are some direct examples where Sally-Anne stresses the “Who?” side of the equation: who is your target audience when you write?
With articles, my target audience isn’t necessarily corporate executives, editors/proofreaders, or professionals.
It may include student editors, individual adults of any age, writers who work as a waitress or waiter as their day job, etc.
I am still careful not to be overly informal with my blog posts about business or editing, because, for me, these are serious subjects.
Since my audience is mostly professional, I usually write formally.
With movie or event reviews or contemporary issues – where my subject and audience are more casual – I loosen up a little.
The language of my blog posts reflects that.
I don’t doubt others tell you,
“You can’t write like you talk for your __< fill in the blank >__.”
Maybe they’re right.
Is it a research paper? Blog post? White paper? Email?
The tone depends on your audience.
My writing style is a mix of the advice from John and Sally-Anne.
For example, when I present James Cameron’s and Robert Ballard’s strategic management processes to get us to the RMS Titanic, I’m more formal.
If I want you to laugh at examples of c-r-a-z-y English, I have fun.
Never be afraid to ‘de-formalize’ for the right audience.
Hold your breath and dive in.
Where appropriate, unashamedly write like you talk!
Join the Conversation
Here’s a big “Thank You” to John Espirian and Sally-Anne Watson Kane.
Feel free to ask my guests a question in the comments section.
Then, check them out on their home turf:
Sally-Anne Watson Kane
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