July 5, 2005
Liz published this at 11:17 pm
From: D. Keith Robinson
Some of this post is adapted by one I wrote almost two years ago. Back then I saw the benefits of a conversational style and since then I’ve not only realized many of those benefits, I’ve learned a thing or two about blogging, writing for the Web and developing online community. Oh, and my writing is much better.
(It was kind of scary reading my old stuff–but good to see a definite improvement.)
When it comes to a relaxed, conversational style and tone I find that, for me, that style works very well. In general I think it’s a good style to develop for any Web writing–especially blogs–whether they be personal or business related.
A conversational style fits in perfectly with what the Web is all about. As I’ve said quite often, the Web is about people. If you write like you are speaking to your readers, like you’re having a conversation with them, you’ll be laying the foundation for building a relationship with the people that read what you’ve got to say.
Benefits of Conversational Style
- Identification with your readers. This is especially true with Web sites that allow comments or encourage feedback. You’ll score points with your readers if they feel like they have your attention and can get to know the writer.
- Easier editing. With a this kind of style you’ll be able to self-edit more, and if you are doing it right, your readers will edit your writing and be very tolerant of mistakes, but be careful.
- Less writers block. By adopting this style you can be yourself, talk about things that are important to you and your ideas and words will come a bit easier.
- More reader participation. Your readers will feel more involved and want to be a part of what you are doing. On a professional site this can translate into more business. On a personal site–more fun.
- More honest writing. A conversational style allows you to be yourself.
- Makes for a more entertaining read. I personally much prefer a personal, conversational writer. It comes of much less “dry” and makes it easier for me to “get” what they are trying to say.
There are a few drawbacks you might find with a conversational style. While I don’t see them in any way outweighing the benefits, they’re still something you may want to consider.
Drawbacks of Conversational Style
- Poor writing quality. This type of style can lead you easily down the road of sloppy writing and factual mistakes. This is something to watch out for, as you may lose credibility with your readers. Still, you can have great quality and still keep the conversational tone, just be careful.
- Criticism. If you adopt this style and have any measure of success you may be criticized or seen by some as unprofessional, and that is something you’ll need to deal with. Personally I’ve not seen very much of this. Not enough to worry about, that’s for sure.
- Misrepresentation. It can be very easy to misrepresent yourself with this kind of style. After all many of your readers may have never met you in person and may not get some of the subtleties of your writing style. Sometimes what we think we’re saying doesn’t come through. As you get more comfortable with your style, and learn how your readers react to it, this will get less common.
In my experience, if proper care is taken to make sure it’s done right, a casual, conversational style can be perfect for many blogs, both personal and professional. There are drawbacks, but I feel the positives outweigh the negatives in most cases.
It’s all dependent on your audience and your goals, but as I’m sure you know, writing for the Web is unlike any other type of writing and the old rules, while shouldn’t be disregarded entirely, need to be bent a bit.
Much of our interaction on the Web is two way, and a conversational style helps invite that all important second party into the mix. No one wants to talk to themselves and when it comes to blogging it’s all about making connections and engaging the reader in that all important conversation.