When managing communications, content writers naturally want to create messaging that feels knowledgeable in order to elicit authority and trustworthiness. To win over audiences, they may rely on touting credentials or making simple issues seem complicated (We all know that one person, right?). By slipping into authoritative speak, however, companies wind up creating content that’s either stuffy and boring or pedantic and preachy.
But who likes to be talked at with tones like that? Typically, no one.
Not only does pushy authority make people connect with you less, all that effort acting strong is exhausting — and it usually doesn’t deepen our relationships.
The key to content that communicates effectively is simple: Lighten up! Approach your content as a conversation — and write like you’re chatting with a friend. Pull from your background and expertise to address the issue thoughtfully, and use your social skills to engage them with a pressure-free, friendly conversation.
Here are three tips to help you move from authoritative to conversational in your next content piece:
1. Be personal.
Content should be informative, but it should also be human. One of the best ways to connect with audiences is to make sure they know a real person is behind the messaging. If you entered your industry because a family member or life experience inspired you, share your story! Remember, friends connect through storytelling and relate on shared personal experiences. By embracing this trait, you’ll create the meaningful, personal connection that’s so vital to relationships built on trust.
- Allow vulnerability. When we avoid being vulnerable to a friend, we put up unnecessary walls that create distance. Do so long enough, and we erode our relationships. The same correlation rings true with your audiences.
- Be honest about your weaknesses and mistakes. Admitting you don’t know everything can help your audiences relate and deepen their engagement. Bring your real self to your content conversations, and connection will follow.
- Speak directly to them. Conversations between two friends use “I” and “you” in their voice, since they talk directly to each other. The same voice applies to conversational content.
2. Be helpful.
If your friend needed help fixing her car, you wouldn’t start by rattling off all the different components of an engine and how they work together. You’d open the hood and work together. The same rule applies to content. When you need to share information, do the following:
- Ask questions. Questions can help the reader figure out if this piece of content will address their needs. A well-asked question can also help your reader think critically and work toward solving their own issues.
- Share personal stories. Describe a time when you worked through a similar issue, and what helped you find success. If you’re crafty, you can use these anecdotes to allude to relevant credentials or expertise in the matter at hand.
- Commiserate over frustrations. Sometimes people just need to hear, “This is tough!” Whether you’re helping people with financial planning or baking the perfect cherry pie, a little commiseration can help your content feel warm and understanding.
3. Be truthful.
A friend doesn’t manipulate truths or say just believe me to other friends, so back up your facts to connect your audience to the real world. Surprisingly, people are really bad at judging if others are lying, and most of them rely on their own instincts to tell them if someone is telling the truth. Remember, with proof comes trust, and with trust comes engagement.
- Add numbers and news. Use statistics and links to news sources or studies. Look for information that’s relatively recent, and do your homework to make sure it’s a reliable source.
- Look outside your circle. Share additional content you think they’ll value, even if it’s not yours. Of course, we’re not recommending you highlight competitors. Look for industry-wide organizations, government agencies, or even inspirational or public figures.
- Avoid broad sweeps. If you can’t back up your statements with facts or evidence, steer clear of them to keep your message credible. We recommend staying away from vague, unverifiable terms like “everyone knows” or “people are saying.”
Ultimately, no matter the industry you work in, people connect over conversation. By embracing this content trait, you can reach like-minded audiences, inspire connection, and provide value to their lives — just as any good friendship does.