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Writer’s Voice?

Have you ever read something from a friend or a colleague that just didn’t sound quite right? The spelling and grammar may have been fine. The content made sense. Yet, there was something off that seemed out of place and you just couldn’t put your finger on it.

This is where a writer’s voice comes into play. It is the element that determines how the reader experiences a work. Whether it’s a short story, sales presentation, or email, a writer’s style is the influence that connects the reader to the words and helps cement meaning.

A consistent style helps to develop that bond between writer and reader. It can be jarring to read a blog by the same author that changes in style from post to post. It is the thing that stands out to you when someone on the phone is reading a call script instead of speaking organically.

The same can be said for emails that are wildly different from how the writer actually speaks. The reader is left with a sense of pretentiousness if the email is full of complex sentences, overly formal grammar, and unusually large words the writer never uses when leading a meeting or discussing work volume.

On the opposite end, the writer creates a sense of distrust or even pandering if the writing is excessively familiar or full slang that is out of place with their speaking style or position. Think about the last time someone was trying to appeal to a younger crowd by loading the presentation with slang. In my early history, I can recall the near painful awkwardness when everyone was trying to rap to get their messages across to the youth of the day. Needless to say, the message was lost between the mocking and feelings of slight insult.

There are a number of ways to be consistent with voice in writing.

1. Read the piece out loud or to yourself.

Not only will this help you catch dropped words, but you can also hear if the item doesn’t flow or sounds out of character for you.

2. Have someone you trust read the item. Ask them if this sounds like something you would say. A simple “Does this sound weird?” can go a long way.

3. If the writing reflects how you would like to communicate, work to bring your personal communication in sync with the new style.

It can be a great way to change vocal habits such as ‘um’ and ‘uh’ or excessive use of slang and jargon by bringing your attention to these habits.

4. Learn from other writers but don’t try to copy them.

You can pick up tips and tricks, but in the end this is your writing. Sometimes, it can be good to stay away from blogs or other writing because the style is too heavily influencing your own.

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