Last week we promised to kick off a series of practical ways you can refine your messages and content, by activating some simple language tips and techniques. Here we are in Week 1, with a look at the KISS technique – Keep It Short and Simple!
Why start here? Let me give you an example.
Imagine a hardware store offering you an absolute bargain – for one day only you can have a whopping 80 per cent off hexiform rotatable surface compression units!
Yes, you heard that right – 80 per cent off! I guess you’ll want to order some with a deal like that, won’t you?
Brilliant quality and a brilliant price. What’s stopping you from placing an order immediately? Could it be that you just don’t know what they are?
Hexiform rotatable surface compression units = nuts for holding bolts in place.
NOT SUCH A BIG EXAGGERATION
This might sound like an over-exaggeration, but in 30 years of helping clients get their audience really engaged with their message, I’ll tell you with my hand on my heart that most people veer into a bit of a word salad very easily, as soon as their brain realises they’re writing something that will be published.
In that moment, their normal voice seems to pack up and leave town, replaced by someone sounding strangely formal and official. Suddenly they say things like “in the event of’ instead of “if”. “At this moment in time” instead of “now”. “Endeavour” instead of “try”.
Don’t get me wrong – I love a good and wide vocabulary. I live in professional terror that one day we’ll all get so hung up on ‘plain English’ that the dictionary will halve in size. I grew up being encouraged to broaden my vocabulary, and I hope I never stop doing so.
But when it comes to being seen and heard, it pays to be clear. It pays to sound authentic.
BE CLEAR, BE UNDERSTOOD, BE TRUSTED
There is a time and a place for the formal and the official. But it’s unlikely to be in your marketing brochure, your social media post, your landing page.
As we saw at the start, it’s hard to decide to buy a product when you don’t really recognise what it is. Make it easy for your potential followers, fans and customers to say yes to you and your offer.
And waffly words can sound like they’re hiding something. I bet you’ve seen things like this and snorted with derision – the ‘pre-loved vehicles’ that you know are really second-hand bangers, or the estate agent’s description of ‘bijou’ for a home where you know you’ll bang your elbows every time you put your jacket on.
We live in a world where (according to research) we are bombarded with more than 150 newspapers worth of data every single day. In that tsunami of mental noise, it’s just too easy to scroll on by unless your message is loud and clear.
YOUR BRAND SOUNDS JUST LIKE YOU
People need to know, like and trust you before they will even think about buying from you – and your tone of voice will help or hinder that relationship.
What’s more, research suggests that they need an average of 17 touch-points with you to feel that trust – so it’s vital that your tone of voice sounds consistent and true every time.
How do you make sure your tone of voice is engaging and consistent? Just write as authentically as you would speak. If you’re the sort of person who would say that you ‘know’ something, make sure you say that and don’t get all ‘cognisant’ instead when you’re writing your marketing materials!
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
There is so much focus on platforms and media – should you be on Pinterest? What’s the best time of day to post on Instagram? These things count, of course – but these are your channels, they are not your message. They can help you get out there, but your presence alone will not shine a light on your business or your brand.
Language, however, is a silver bullet for getting yourself seen and heard, making yourself understood, and getting better results. Get your language right, and you turn a key in your business or your career.
As well as choosing words that deliver your message with clear and crisp accuracy, there are a number of other language skills and techniques that will help you get better results. Check out our blog next week, when we’ll show you a language trap that is probably sapping the life out of your content and draining the confidence from your speech…and how to fix it to make your words sparkle!
Don’t miss it! (Why not follow this blog to have the blogs and teach-ins sent directly to your inbox, so you never miss a thing?)
Until then, have a brilliant week (and we’ll see you inbetween on social media).
Lucy & Emma | The Communication Coaches