Achieve a Conversational Tone in your Copy Using Dictation
When you come across a client wanting to address their audience with a “conversational” tone of voice, your next question will probably be obvious.
“What does that mean?”
In essence, a conversational tone means that you should write copy that sounds natural to the reader, that sounds more like a conversation than an informative session.
It has to be a voice that your audience perceives as familiar and non-condescending. A conversational tone is similar to one that your friend would take to convince you to go to one movie versus another.
Hopefully you’re coming into this exercise with strong customer personas written out. Can you picture this customer in your head? Is there an official name you use to refer to them?
If not, go back to that basic step first. You need to have a clear idea of who your customer is, down to where they may live and what their favorite TV shows are. Without knowing this, you’ll flounder and may inadvertently insult them.
Targeting what this voice will sound like to a particular audience can be tricky. But with dictation and transcription, it will be easier to figure out how to achieve that sweet spot of conversational tone. It’s all part of the process of taking the words out of your head and getting them onto paper (or a screen)!
Photo by Etienne Boulanger
Transcribe different ways of observing the same point
If you have the time, practice communicating a point to your audience in different ways by speaking it out loud. Try different sentence lengths. Speak with different emotions, even different senses of urgency. Vary it up!
Once the dictation is recorded and transcribed, read over the different forms of making the point. See how it looks, versus how it sounds. Diagram sentences if you know how. What would sound most familiar to your audience?
Compare speakers who are considered role models for your audience.
Now that you have an idea of how your audience themselves may speak, put yourself into the shoes of someone your audience may admire. Would they listen to an ad about this product if the President was talking about it? How about Oprah, or Kelly Ripa?
By emulating the speech of someone your audience admires, you’re also figuring out what will work to convince your audience. Isolating those ideas will help you grow closer to what speaks to your audience in a casual sense. If Steve Jobs can convince your customer, how would their best friend do it?
Photo by Eliott Reyna
Observe speakers whose tone is similar to your audience
Picturing the customer in your head, dictate non-product themed dialogue in their voice. How would this person talk about the weather or the news? Do your best to get into them as a character.
In doing this exercise, you may be surprised at what you accidentally discover about your customer.
How often do they use emotive words? How many questions do they ask? What about slang? Feel free to play around with what they say; you may just happen upon the perfect technique for capturing how they speak.