What is voice? In writing, voice is the style or personality of the writer or narrator.
But that’s not the whole story.
I’m a conversationalist. By that, I mean that I thrive on connections, and if I’m telling you a story, I want it to feel as if I’m talking to one of my closest pals. Yes, audience, I consider you my compadres. My authentic voice is that of a friend. When you read my writing, I want you to relate to me, and feel as if you could interject and share your opinions with me. (This is always welcomed in the comment section!)
It’s great to connect with your readers, but a conversational tone isn’t for every writer. It’s certainly not for all companies.
In fact, I don’t always have the opportunity or desire to write like a “friend.” My tone changes based on the client I’m working with. When writing for the medical profession, the voice is often authoritative and professional, informed by extensive interviews with the client. If writing for a yoga practice, I may take on a relaxed, rhetorical style. Your brand will define your voice. The better you know your brand and the message you want to share with the world, the better grasp you’ll have on how to deliver that message.
If you’re still wondering “What is voice in writing?” I’ve got a simple answer for you.
Voice is a style; think of it as the personality in your writing. Just as each being’s personality is unique, each writer’s voice is, too.
Anne Lamott, one of my favorite creative nonfiction writers, has a distinct self-deprecating, open-to-all voice. Author Tucker Max’s voice, on the other hand, is boastful and could even be considered arrogant. Both writers have authentic, worthy voices that can easily be identified.
Do you have a writing voice?
Better yet, can you write in different voices? Or are you simply wondering, “What is voice in writing, and how can I find mine?” If you plan on writing content for your company’s website, you may want to take a moment to consider your own writing style before you begin typing away at the computer.
Another way to answer the question what is voice in writing? would be to consider the actual humans who will be posting on your blog. Will your intern be writing posts? Your marketers? Your sales staff? Your managers? The CEO? Will there be a variety of blog authors, and therefore a variety of voices?
Some would say your company’s voice should be exclusive. Others might suggest you consider including various voices on your company’s website. I, my friends, don’t like to pick sides. There’s a power behind both beliefs. One consistent voice will be expected from you by your readers. Though people following your brand will long for glimpse behind the scenes, and may enjoy reading material from different team members.
Make sure that everyone posting understands the brand’s overall style. While different contributors may have different voices, they should all still fall in line with that style. Take BuzzFarmers’ business blog as an example. By now, you’ve read blog posts by all of our team members. We all have different messages to share with you, and our styles may diverge at times, but we all stay true to the BuzzFarmers voice. We aim to educate, communicate, and develop relationships with our blog readers with passion and positivity.[Tweet “Contributors might have different voices, but they must still fall in line with your blog’s style.”]
Finding Your Voice
So, you can now answer the question: What is voice in writing? But try answering these: What is your voice like? And if you don’t feel like you have one, how do you find it? If this isn’t something you’ve given much thought to in the past, you may have a difficult time answering the questions. Have no fear, though. I have some suggestions for you.
Think about your audience. Who are you talking to? If you’re writing about stocks, and your audience is comprised of brokers and investors with slicked-back hair and $500 suspenders, you may want to keep your tone professional. If you’re writing about novelty toys, you have the opportunity to be more playful.
Once you have a grasp of whom you’re writing to, consider what type of message you want to share. One blog I read regularly is The Middle Finger Project. Written by a PR professional, posts are geared to small business marketing, but you don’t need a business to relate to the content, which deals largely with living boldly. (I bet you would have never guessed by the title!) Once you understand and define your message, it’s likely your style of writing will match the point you’re trying to get across.
If you’ve written a few drafts and feel as if you’re really getting the hang of writing for an audience, I have a challenge for you. Print your work and read it out loud. You can read it to your spouse, your infant, your dog, your doctor, solicitors … basically, just find someone to listen. Make sure you’re also paying attention to your voice. When you’re finished, ask your audience and/or yourself, “Do these posts sound like me? Do I talk like this in real life? Would I enjoy listening someone speak to me in this way? If you can answer yes to those questions, you know you’re on the right track.
Bottom line: Voice is important to a brand.
Your voice needs to be authentic. Once you’ve found your voice, it’s important to always be developing it.
How did you develop your writing voice? Be sure to share any tips you have in the comments section!