I’m a terrible writer. Per my past editors, I assemble my sentences like a robot. The mild dyslexia doesn’t help either.
But here’s the thing. There is a bigger copy sin than one’s inability to make the text flow smoothly.
It’s the thing that causes boredom and immediate glazing-over of your readers’ eyes. Something I notice again and again done by other content producers, and sometimes myself too.
That sin is faking it.
I’m not talking about writing fiction or making up stories. What I mean is faking the tone, and trying too hard to sound smart. It’s writing like the ideas are someone else’s. Writing it the way you would never speak out loud. Like a machine.
The result is simple: 1) boring copy, 2) sounding too smart and too technical, thus 3) inauthentic and fake, and most importantly 4) ultimately resulting in poor products and services that no one can relate to. This is also what separates great brands from the stale, unrelatable ones.
The other day I was editing some slide decks. These were done in a corporate fashion and for corporate reasons. We had a goal to sound hip, authentic and relatable.
I tried to quiz my boss: what exactly are we trying to achieve here? Who is the audience and how should they perceive it? What does the copy that’s already there, written without the reader in mind, mean?
My boss explained it. And in his own words he made things sound more human and understandable.
You know what my reaction was?
‘Exactly! We need to write exactly what you just said. Word for word! Not these corporate-sounding terms without meaning…’
Now, if you understand where I’m getting at… The solution is that simple.
If you want your copy to rock and the users to buy into it, do this:
- Use the language and terms you use to describe the case to your friends (peers, colleagues, family members etc.).
- Write as you speak
I’d even recommend recording the spoken voice and transcribing it first.
And even if you’re selling some corporate or professional services, and your clients are the biggest curmudgeons — natural and simple will always outperform an inauthentic message.
Successful brands speak human, and so should every content writer.