Have you ever noticed how your grandma talks? Her stories start with ‘when I was your age’ and they, quite honestly, never reach an end. And this is exactly why your annoying, know-it-all teenage sister rolls her eyes when granny starts with one of her speeches.
Unless, of course, granny speaks like you do, occasionally brings up one of her naughty tales, and uses the word ‘shit’ profusely.
Thing is, if your granny has adapted to conversing like your generation does it is easier to connect with her.
Same applies to your content – you need to write in your audience’s lingo to help folks understand your message clearly. You need to converse with your audience.
Writing like you’re scrawling down an academic paper is only going to repel your audience like Mortein repels mosquitoes.
But how to write conversationally?
This is what I am going to talk about in this post. Buckle up and dive in:
1 – Know your target reader
When you think of your audience, think of just one person. Study this person and how he talks. For this, you need to be familiar with who your target reader is exactly.
Is it a 45-year old woman wanting to learn how social media works to power up her new venture? Or maybe just a 32-year-old hip marketer who wants to know how to make graphics for his blog conveniently?
When it comes to how to write a conversational article, the first pointer to keep in mind is to mold your writing to what your target reader is best likely to understand.
2 – Talk to this one person
When writing a blog post, refrain from addressing the entire population at once.
People don’t huddle together to read your stuff. Everyone reads separately, which is why you should write as if you’re talking to just one person.
How to do that?
By using the word ‘you’ quite a bit. When you use ‘you’ you’re addressing your reader directly, helping build a connection. Using ‘you’ also makes your articles more about your audience. Create a relationship by also using the words ‘I’ and ‘we’ but sparingly. In other words, write in the second person point of view.
3 – Don’t ramble
When you drag your story, readers lose interest.
This is what makes writing different than speaking. When you speak you are at the liberty to add in minute details. This is something you can’t do when writing a conversational article.
You see, when I say talk like your audience, I mean use the words they tend to use and speak as casually as they do. This doesn’t mean you should also add extra details, a background story, and 12 different people’s expressions along with a thesis on the weather when you’re writing an article.
People don’t really have that big of an attention span to wait for you to deliver your message. In fact, you only have 8 seconds to hook them.
4 – Cut out jargon and difficult words
Know what’s worse than stretched out content? One that uses words like chutzpah.
Your readers don’t have the time to Google what your big words mean. In fact, research shows the average American has the reading level of a seventh grader.
Moreover, not everyone gets what you mean when you use big fat business terms. Which is why you should skip the intellectual jargon and write using simpler language.
In short, make it your aim to write content that is easily understandable.
5 – Use varying sentence lengths
Ideally, most of your sentences should be short. But not all of them should be short. When all the sentences are short and almost of the same length you sound like a brusque and uptight businessman whom his employees secretly hate.
Mixing up sentence lengths is one great way to be more conversational in your articles. However, try to keep the majority of your sentences shorter than 22 words. Because sentences that are unnecessarily long are not easy to read.
Some sentences may be longer than this limit, but as long as they make sense, flow, and form the minority, they work.
6 – Use bucket brigades
Bucket brigades in content writing are phrases that connect two sentences and maintain a flow in reading. Copywriters often use this technique to grab readers’ attention, keep them onboard, and remove breaks between two lines.
Interestingly, bucket brigades bridge not just two sentences, but also the gap between a piece of writing and the reader’s emotions.
It’s important to know that bucket brigades come in different forms. Sometimes they are phrases, other times they are questions asked to evoke the interest of the reader. Below are some examples.
You can also read more about bucket brigades here.
7 – Bend grammar rules
You must have heard of this before – if you’re a writer who wants to write conversationally, disappoint your strict school English teacher. Oh, the irony.
If you’re wondering how to write conversationally, your goal should be to sound natural in your articles. And for this, you should use contractions more, start your sentences with ands and buts and enjoy the freedom of ending your sentences with prepositions.
Similarly, your teacher might have given you an A grade for using fresh-out-of-the-oven vocabulary, but its best to resist the urge to open up a thesaurus when writing a blog post.
8 – Yes to active voice
The key to not constantly sound like an outdated automatic customer support voicemail is to ditch passive voice.
So, instead of writing “My phone will not be used by me after bedtime” write “I will not use my phone after bedtime.”
On a side note – wow, what a lie.
9 – Use analogies and tell stories
Storytelling is a great way to stir emotions and add more life to your content. You can use anecdotes in your content to make it more conversational.
An anecdote is a short, amusing story that typically revolves around your personal experience. Here’s an example:
You can also use an analogy to make your writing more conversational. What’s that? Basically, an analogy is a comparison of one concept to another to explain things better.
Back when I used to be active on Goodreads, I’d often use analogies in my reviews to make them more interesting.
10 – Be an empath
I am a big advocate of empathy in everything you do – and that includes writing. As an empathetic writer, you address the pain points of your reader in a manner that is succinct and understandable.
You look at the confusion he is facing from his lens and solve it as comprehensively as possible. What you’re basically doing here is this – you’re letting your inner friendly neighborhood expert shine through.
11 – Use interjections
Interjections are expressive words or phrases that typically end with an exclamatory mark. Examples include hooray, oh my, and ugh!
Once upon a time these were always followed by an exclamatory mark, which earned them the nickname of exclamations. But now, not all interjections end with an exclamatory mark, because it’s not cool anymore.
Using injections in your writing can make it more conversational, but beware! Don’t overdo the use of these words and be very smart with their inclusion.
12 – Read more contemporary novels
Legendary works like Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda can really hone your conversational writing skills. If you’re more of a listener than a reader, you can watch movies or listen to audiobooks instead.
I have noticed that such books and movies polish my inner monologue to be more conversational which helps me become a better writer.
Summing up – write like Hasan Minhaj speaks.
Really, that guy is awesome and manages to hook me even when I’m doodling, and my brother is annoyingly watching his show at the other end of the room.
Think conversational writing is not your cup of tea? Don’t worry, pass me the pen.