And Understanding What a Conversational Tone Even Means
If you dig through enough tips and tricks to improve your blog, website and social media content you’ll likely stumble across suggestions to write in a conversational tone. This is a great tip if you understand what that means and how to do it. If you’re wondering what a conversational tone is and how to make it work for your content marketing, here’s what you need to know.
Know Your Tone
Many people have a hard time making the switch to writing in a less formal, more conversational tone. Basically, all of your English teachers are to blame. Students typically learn to write in a formal style. Writing conversationally breaks some of the grammar rules you learned in school.
Formal writing is much less utilized now; although, everything has a time and place. Use formal writing for cover letters and pieces written for industry journals and publication, particularly in the fields of medicine and law. A conversational tone can impact credibility if readers expect a formal tone.
Benefits of a Conversational Tone
Writing in a conversational tone means you write similar to how you normally speak, so the content normally flows more like a conversation. This can make for quicker writing and fewer odds of experiencing writer’s block. The conversational tone can also simplify and speed up proofreading.
Don’t mistake improved flow as meaning a lack of structure. Writing conversationally still requires some of the skills you picked up in school. You still need an introductory paragraph, a thesis statement, and topic sentences. Information should flow in a logical way that helps your readers understand what you are explaining, so by the time your readers arrive at the concluding paragraph, they get it.
Make a Connection
Utilizing a conversational tone in your content fosters a sense of familiarity. Often, conversational writing has a more genuine and human feel to it. This can draw readers in and hold their attention because they feel as if you are speaking directly to them.
A conversational tone engages readers, which can translate into more likes and shares via social media. The lighthearted causal tone also makes you appear more approachable, which can further encourage readers to reach out with questions.
How to Write in a Conversational Tone
Talk to Your Audience
To write in a conversational tone, simply write as if you were having a direct conversation with your audience. Drop the formality and speak just to your reader. For example, if you are reading this post, you are my audience, so I’m talking directly to you. I refer to myself in the first person (I, me) and I use personal pronouns, like ‘you’ to address you, my reader. This makes it more personal.
Keep It Simple
Use easy words your audience will be likely to know and understand. This is not the time to flaunt your impressive vocabulary or use that new word you learned from your word of the day calendar or a Merriam Webster Twitter post. Readers will understand what you are trying to communicate when you use words they know.
Big words can have a negative impact if your readers are not familiar with the meaning and you run the risk of making your readers feel dumb. After you make your readers feel like an idiot, they may look up the word, figure out what you mean and keep reading, or they may close their browser and move on.
Language is extensive and varied. Either due to the subject matter or the situation, sometimes a big, complicated word may be the best fit. It’s ok to go big when appropriate, but this should be the exception, not a habit.
Mind the Length
In addition to short words, you also want to stick to short sentences. You want to get to the point. Dragging things out unnecessarily may cause readers to skip out before reaching the end. Most people will likely read your content on their phones when they have a spare moment. Short sentences make it easy for readers to quickly get through your post, and maybe even skim the content. You want readers to make it to the end of the post, so they spend more time on your site and read your call to action statement.
Writing long sentences in a long post decreases the odds of a reader seeing a piece through to the end. Figuring out the ideal blog post length is another piece of the content marketing puzzle.
Use the Right Words
Utilize contractions to give your writing a conversational edge. Contractions are two words merged into one, using an apostrophe. Words like, it’s, they’re and here’s are all examples of contractions.
Contradictions are not generally accepted in formal writing. However, it’s completely fine to use contractions when writing in a conversational tone. You probably use contractions all the time when you speak, and if you’re writing in a conversational tone, you should use them in your text, too.
Active and passive are ways to structure sentences. Passive writing can be very formal. Active writing places the verb, or action word, at the front of the sentence and typically uses fewer words. Short, active sentences are quicker to read and often more engaging. For example, ‘Alison wrote the blog post,’ is an example of an active sentence structure. ‘The blog post was written by Alison,’ conveys the same meaning using a passive structure and a couple more words.
Forget the Rules
Conversational writing is more forgiving about ending sentences with a preposition (i.e. words like after, in, to, on, and with) and starting sentences with conjunctions (words like and or but). Feel free to break these grammar rules, but don’t let things get out of hand. Continually starting sentences with conjunctions or ending with a preposition can sound sloppy and may confuse your reader.
Open It Up to Questions
A great technique to keep things conversational is to ask questions. This makes sense, given that you’re trying to make your post sound like a conversation. Real conversations feature questions. Including questions makes posts engaging and encourages readers to comment and reach out.
Let’s Have a Conversation
Using a conversational tone can be part of an effective content marketing strategy. Breaking established habits can be hard, but once you get the hang of it, writing in a conversational tone can actually be easy. Do you struggle to write in a conversational tone? Do you need help creating quality content that connects with your readers? Let’s talk and see what I can do to help you out!