Get set (text follows)
Who are you talking to?
Who are you?
What’s your point?
What’s the best route to deliver it?
Write like you talk
An intro that hooks
A closes that spurs action
Don’t forget the others
Is that spinach in your teeth?
Numbers and style
Tell your story
More Hollywood techniques
Practice and progress
Listen to the first section or read the text from the fillable PDF workbook for Write Like You Talk Only Better uLearn
What you’ll learn
- What’s in it for you
- What’s in the course
- How your writing rates for ease and interest
- What you want to achieve through better writing
Maybe you think of yourself as a marketer, PR pro, subject matter expert or social media strategist. But from all the pages, posts and papers you prepare, much of your day you are a writer.
Because you don’t specialize in writing, sometimes you’re not sure how to focus, avoid gaffes or raise your game. Or you wonder why more people don’t seem to read, remember and respond to you.
Although this took me more than 30 years to figure out, you can learn in just five weeks. All you have to do is spend less than ten minutes a week reading or listening to one section, then returning to this workbook for links, assignments and rewards. The assignments, called Your turn, involve something you’re working on anyways. That way, the lessons will sink in. And they won’t pile more onto your busy day.
After you’ve gone through the course, you’ll notice a big improvement. What’s more, you can keep getting better, by practicing. It’s up to you.
If you’d prefer to plough through this without stopping to practice, or you want more detail, you can buy my book, available in paperback and for e-readers. Or you can read my posts on writing and complete the free worksheets on my web site.
I call this program Write Like You Talk Only Better because it’s based on everyone’s first and favorite way to communicate—talking.
Although respected authors and educators have been advising people to write like they talk for many years, it’s become vital with social media and the emphasis on collaboration and engagement.
But if you only write like you talk, you miss the thinking that comes with writing. You forfeit the chance to consider the passions and fears of the people you want to connect with and to sharpen your point. You don’t take advantage of the opportunity polish your draft so you will stand out and be heard. That’s why it’s called Write Like You Talk Only Better.
With so much emphasis on collaboration and engagement, better writing has become vital to success. A Korn Ferry study of high potential individuals singled out the ability to inform, persuade, influence, coach and inspire others. This is often accomplished through the written word.
What’s more, as we spend an increasing amount of time writing and reading, written communication is becoming a key productivity issue.
That’s why you need to make time to take your writing seriously.
Business experts insist that you have to measure what you’re doing if you want to improve. That’s why this program begins with baseline measurements for tracking your progress. You’ll be competing against yourself.
Do people understand you?
Your first assignment will help you evaluate how easy you are to understand. And it will let you track your progress. Short words, sentences and paragraphs are key.
The Flesch Kincaid reading ease test has become so popular that it’s now incorporated into the software Word and Outlook.
If you prefer another reading ease test, that’s fine. The point is to use the same test throughout this program, and beyond, so you can see how you’re doing.
Reading ease score
Record your reading ease scores here.
Do people find you interesting?
Rudolf Flesch, better known for the Flesch Kincaid test you just took, also developed this reading interest test, shown in this vintage infographic. From his extensive research on popular magazines, Rudolf found that writers generate interest from readers by getting personal. He called for personal words, especially gender-specific pronouns, such as his or her and words like actress, Jim or father.
Rudolf encouraged the use of people and folks, not faceless groups as business writers do so often with users, customers or stakeholders. Rudolf also recommended personal sentences, including quoted dialogue, questions, commands and requests addressed to the reader, exclamations and “incomplete sentences, where the reader can infer the full meaning.”
Written in 1949, the test has not been automated. Rudolf encouraged people to use gender-specific terms, such as waitress, which would now be considered sexist. Later, you’ll learn about easy alternatives.
He also extolled exclamation marks, which we see too often in cheesy sales copy. More on punctuation later too.
The Rudolf Barb reading interest test
This simple test eliminates the problems of Rudolf’s old test and takes advantage of what you can do in Word. In addition to letting you find and count specific words, Word tries to point out possible grammatical errors by underlining them in green. However, many of the green underlines refer to conversational techniques, such as contractions of two words (you’re) and Rudolf’s “incomplete sentences.” Don’t count any that don’t fit your brand. And don’t count any real grammar errors that the green underlines flag, especially subject-predicate agreement and the correct use of I, me and myself. We’ll talk about the only grammar rules that still matter later, so don’t get too concerned about the errors revealed by green underlining here.
(The workbook contains an example.)
Copy 100 words onto a separate document. Make sure spell check is enabled. Use Find to count the number of times you used
- a variation of you
- quotation marks
- a question mark
- sentence fragments, contractions or other conversational techniques that spell check underlined in green
a request or command
Add these up.
Reading interest score
What are your goals?
Make sure they’re SMART:
For example, maybe you want to spend an hour less on writing your report this month. Or it could be enticing three prospects to say “yes” to email this week.
If you have more goals, pick three to focus on this time around.
Your SMART goals
Took reading ease test
Completed reading interest test
Set SMART goals, one star each