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Do You Write The Way You Speak? (You Should!)

Learn how to create a conversational style in your digital media, including video, blogs, teleseminars, webinars, and podcasts.

By
Lisa B. Marshall,
September 1, 2011
Episode #128

Page 2 of 2

Tip #3: Keep Your Sentences Short. Efficient.

Next, it’s very important to recognize that we don’t speak the same way we write. Formal language just doesn’t sound comfortable. 

Whereas formal written language contains complex and compound sentences that are grammatically correct, spoken phrases are generally much shorter. 

Could you hear how awkward that sounded? Here’s how that should have been delivered.

Formal language contains complex and compound sentences. (Usually they’re grammatically correct).  However, we speak using much shorter phrases.

Verbal language is simplistic. Usually, just one thought per sentence.  Compound and complex sentences are just too difficult for our ears. So keep it short. Efficient. And, yes, it’s even OK to occasionally have a grammar error, if it helps to further or accentuate your point. Such as a sentence fragment. (I really hope Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, isn’t reading this! She might disagree). 

Tip #4: Sentence Structure Matters

Another difference is much more subtle. When writing in conversational style, the main idea or the main action should come first. So never start sentences with introductory clauses. Instead, sentences should be subject, verb, then object. For example:

““I’m writing this episode at the pool.”

Not

“By writing this episode at the pool, my work was accomplished while watching my kids.”

The first sentence was much easier on your ear, right?  By the way, that example also demonstrates three more rules: Always use the active voice. Use the present tense. And use contractions. After all, that’s how we talk. 

To review:

  1. Think and speak your content first

  2. Outline your content

  3. Keep your sentences short. Efficient.

  4. Use a subject, verb, object sentence structure. 

In part two of this series, we’ll cover 6 more tips to help you develop a conversational writing style.  

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.

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Resources

I wrote a blog post that includes many great resources for developing a conversational style. It was the reason I wrote this episode.
 

Presentation image courtesy of Shutterstock

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