Do people tell you that your content is boring or matter of fact? Or that it reads like a textbook?
Then they’re probably referring to the fact that it has no unique voice, humor or personality.
Writing better isn't just knowing how to inform, but how to perform. You're educating your audience, but you also need to entertain them.
Sadly, most brands frown at sprinkling some personality and humor throughout the content.
It’s not your fault. Years of high-school or college education may have led you to believe that it’s bad to be authentic, passionate or emotional in your writing.
The system rewards you to write only what has been taught and not apply your own mind.
It’s time to unlearn the bad habits you picked from your old days and make your content fun to read.
If you can get it right, the dividends are plenty. Since most of the brands don’t do it, you have the chance to stand out in a big way.
Everyone has a unique voice, personality and a sense of humor. So I refuse to believe that you don’t. All you need is a little guidance and a push on getting it on the page. Let’s begin.
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Writing In Your Unique Voice
When you’re writing for an audience, just covering facts and information is not enough.
If you want to get their engagement, gain trust and build a long-term relationship, you need to invoke emotions through your writing.
You need to make your audience feel like they really know you.
In other words, whatever you write needs to have a heavy dose of your personality running through the words.
Keeping that in mind, here are my top ways to elevate your writing with the ingredients that convey who you are.
Tell Stories / Anecdotes
“I hired him!,” I told my colleague.
“Oh great. So the interview went well. Where is he from?” He asked.
“Umm.., I don’t know.” I said.
“What was the last company he worked for?”
“Aghh.. I don’t remember.”
“Well, then what do you know about this guy? Didn’t you see his resume?”
“He has a degree in psychology but he always wanted to be a web designer. So he taught himself on his own and started designing websites for non-profits. At his last company, he joined as a junior designer but was promoted within 3 months and asked to supervise their design team.”
“So you don’t remember anything from his resume, but you remember his story!” My colleague chuckled.
You see what I did there? I told you a story to show you the importance of a story. People may forget everything you said in your content, but not the points conveyed through a story.
When I started this section with a story, you were hooked, weren’t you? You wanted to know what’s happening in this story.
And you also got to see how embarrassingly absent-minded I can be in real life. So now you know a little something about me as a person. And we feel a little bit more connected to each other.
Stories make your content relatable, understandable, and personal. They let people see your personality and connect more with you emotionally.
For a brand, stories give a glimpse of people and processes behind the scenes. You turn from a cold corporation to a warm bunch of people.
So show your readers with your stories that you have been through the same challenges, that you understand what they are going through, and what you did to solve the same problems.
However, when writing anecdotes, make sure they’re relevant to your topic and add value to your content. Combine the story with the point you want to make and see the magic happen.
Play On Words For Humor
A good chunk of humor is based on word-plays. A word-play involves adding a twist or unique spin to a well-known cliche, slogan, quote, idiom, book, aphorism, phrase, word, song or movie title. Here’s an example:
They say the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach. But technically, the quickest way to a man’s heart is through the chest. And “they” also don’t tell you that you’ll need a sharp knife.
A word-play can also make use of a pun, homonym, limerick, clever wit or double entendre. Let’s take a closer look at these terms.
Pun: A pun is a word used such that it can have more than one possible meaning. The 2nd meaning may also correspond to a similar sounding word, instead of the exact same word. For example, “Are you having pun?”
Malaprop: A malaprop is the unintentional misstatement or misuse of a word or phrase, or the accidental substitution of an incorrect word for the correct one.
Double Entendre: A double entendre is the use of an ambiguous word or phrase that allows for a second interpretation.
Literal Truth: This is the opposite of a double entendre. It plays on the literal meaning of a word or phrase instead of the commonly accepted one. For example, when you say to someone “Break a leg,” you’re not asking them to break your leg.
Take-Off: The take-off is a statement of the standard version of a cliché or expression, followed by a realistic but highly exaggerated commentary. For example:
Just broke up with someone, and the last thing she said to me was, "You'll never find anybody like me again." And I was thinking: I should hope not. Isn't that why we break up with people?
If I don't want you, why would I want somebody just like you? Does anybody end a bad relationship and say, "By the way, do you have a twin?
-- Larry Miller
Oxymoron: An oxymoron is a result of joining two incompatible concepts in one phrase. It can also be called a contradiction in terms. For example, “I am confident that I lack confidence.”
Reformation: This involves adding a twist or a surprise ending to a cliché (a predictable, hackneyed phrase) or a common word, phrase, or expression.
The applications of word-plays are limitless. You can use them even for funny character names if you’re telling a story. The Austin Powers movies have done this to great success, with names like Random Task, Oddjob, and Fook Yu.
Bonus Tip: If you’re looking for inspiration for adding jokes or funny banter to your content, it's a good idea to browse your favorite humor or viral websites every once in a while.
It will help you collect ideas you can use in your blog posts. Examples include Buzzfeed, 9Gag, Oatmeal, Funny Or Die etc. And there are plenty more. Keep a file of these ideas, which can come handy when writing great content.
Ask Rhetorical Questions
Rhetorical questions make readers feel important and relatable. They feel like they’re talking to you instead of simply consuming information.
A rhetorical question is a question posed by the writer for which the answer is obvious, not expected or about to be revealed by the writer.
The question with an obvious answer - Throughout your piece, you can ask rhetorical questions with obvious answers.
These questions are usually about well-known facts, or get automatically answered by the context of the question.
Use them when you want to emphasize an idea. For example:
Are you kidding me?
Can pigs drive?
The question with no answer - These type of questions intend to make the audience feel the same way as you about something by triggering emotional reactions.
For example, instead of saying "X has done nothing to help our cause," you can ask "What has X ever done to help our cause?"
Or instead of saying,”I told you so many times to …,” you could ask, “How many times did I tell you to …?”
Or “The amount of pollution in the air is rising exponentially. How much more damage will it take for you to take this seriously?"
This triggers a stronger feeling than what you could have invoked with a statement.
The question about to be answered by the questioner - These questions allow you to reveal and answer what questions you had about this topic when you didn’t know better.
In addition to communicating your thoughts, they allow you to relate with the audience because many of them might have the same questions. For example:
"As a real estate investor, you may be thinking 'What should I be focusing on this year for a healthy portfolio?' The answer is …”
Another trick is to introduce one or more rhetorical questions at the beginning of your piece, and explain the answer as you go through the body of content.
Asking difficult questions and then providing answers also increases audience engagement.
Show Passion & Enthusiasm
It shows when a writer actually cares about the topic of his content. You should really cultivate an interest in the subject to better understand the statistics and angles which would really interest you and your readers.
Then let your enthusiasm come through in your writing. Don’t hold back.
Other than that, you should also let some personality shine through your writing. Don’t just talk numbers and facts, share your opinions, thoughts and feelings.
There’s nothing more powerful than the real, authentic content because it’s so rare these days. And the good news is that it's hard to copy for competitors.
Share Your Own Perspective/Opinions
This is a classic way of infusing your personality all around your content. If you care about your topic and have some experience or expertise, you’ll probably have your own take on it.
And that’s you need to show in your writing. Draw from your experiences and knowledge to share what you think about the subject or subtopic you’re covering.
If you’re giving advice, share how you have applied that advice in your own life and how did that work out for you? If it didn’t work, why and what did you learn from your failure or mistakes.
Similarly, if you are talking about a product or service, talk about your own experience of putting it to use. What benefits did you get as a result of using it?
Static images and graphics are great when you want to spice up your content. But some things can be best conveyed only by using a GIF or video. And great content takes advantage of that.
This visual medium is perfect for telling a story, or showing some quick steps on how to do something.
Not just that, GIFs are great for when you want to infuse a little fun and humor into your content.
As an added bonus, videos also increase the time readers spend on your website, causing a boost in overall engagement and search rankings.
A writing personality is just the same as your real, unique, real-world persona, except that it’s conveyed through the written word.
Once you develop the skill of writing content that brims with personality, I guarantee that your audience will always love reading it. In fact, they’ll want to come back and share your content again and again.
Your personality will become an authentic, memorable signature that appeals to your target readers. And it'll serve to build massive brand power for years to come.
Did I miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.