Style: how you write is as important as what you write
Written communication is one of the main ways I talk to you, my readers and potential clients. And one of the main ways you talk to yours. The quality of the words I use and the way I use them speaks volumes about the product you can expect from me. Obviously it’s important for me - I’m a copywriter. But it’s no different for you. The way you write determines what people think about your product or service – whatever that is.
Clear and direct
Communication only works if readers understand it. Be clear and speak in plain English. Get to the point straightaway or you can lose them. But stop and explain where necessary - give them enough detail to act on the message.
Correct and consistent
Inconsistency and poor grammar and spelling muddy the waters. And, by implication, suggest that you don’t care about your product or service any more than you do about your English. Having a simple style guide maintains clarity. And make sure you give your words that final rigorous check.
Inspiring and motivating
Communication only works if readers act on it. Of course the message itself needs to be motivating, but just as important is the way it’s transmitted.
➢ Be positive, avoiding words like try, e.g. “we provide…” rather than “we try to provide…”
➢ Be active, e.g. “We will deliver it in two days” rather than “It will be delivered within two days”
➢ Be unconditional: avoid words like “should”, “could”, “would”, “might” and “may”. “Can” is a great substitute.
Relevant for the audience
My blog is full of articles about making sure the message is relevant - but the way it’s written needs as much consideration. For example, is English the first language of the entire audience? If not, use shorter, more commonly used words and avoid metaphors. Only use jargon when you are sure everyone in the audience understands it.
Say it your way
Every word you write suggests something about your brand, so it must reflect your personality and competitive differences. In other words, have the right tone of voice. For example, WordsWork is a friendly brand, so I write in a conversational tone, often addressing you as “you”.
Watch out for my next article - how to have a style guide that says what it needs to say and no more!