Why you should write and speak the same language for today’s business

Ever since business and marketing communications grew up out of the snake oil ads, we marketing communications wallahs have been saying you should write as you speak.

Why you should write as you speak for business

If what you’re saying isn’t on-brand and reflective of your written persona – bad news.

But never before has this become such an important and personal issue. Now, with media like live streaming video as well as the pre-recorded kind becoming de rigeur for more and more businesses, what you say in vision and in text need to be more closely aligned than ever before.

Why? Because if what you say, or more to the point, how you say it … in vision, is different from how you say it in text, people are going to wonder who the hell you really are. And that’s not good for anything, least of all business.

Does your lovely writing style vanish when you open your mouth?

The other day I got a real shock when for the the first time I watched a video featuring a fellow marcomms writer whose words, previously, I had only read in text form. There he was … someone I really admire for his (text-based) forthright, b*lls-out and very humorous attitude towards all things marketing and advertising. Funny, rude, talented.

So what happened on screen?

Where was this vibrant, amusing, somewhat impolite character who is never afraid to challenge conventional views and call spades spades, in text?

Gone. Instead, here was a man who quite obviously knew his stuff, but for some reason didn’t share his humor or his piquant view of business in person. I wanted to reach into the screen, shake him by the throat and ask him who had strangled his mojo.

Thanks to live video there’s no place to hide now

Ten years ago – maybe even five years ago – the chances of you being seen in vision on the international digital stage were pretty slim. So, apart from any face-to-face business networking you might have been doing, you could get away with leaving a yawning gap between the way you wrote and the way you spoke live. Nobody would put two-and-two together.

But the advent of live streaming video in its various, rapidly multiplying formats has meant that there is increasing pressure on even smaller businesses to get their senior people in front of cameras. Now, if your competitors welcome visitors to their websites with a pre-recorded video of the head honcho saying a few words, soon every company in that marketplace feels the need to do the same. Including yours.

Increasingly, too, business people are being invited to join in with Skype, Google Hangout, Blab chats and their doppelgängers on live video which later gets uploaded to YouTube as a permanent record of you speaking your brand.

And even in the safe environment of a business networking meeting you can sometimes get caught on the hop.

Someone with a smartphone stuck to their face will announce that this is a Periscope chat and you’re being watched by 20 new viewers live from Manchester.

If what you’re saying isn’t on-brand and reflective of your written persona – bad news.

So how do you make your written and spoken speech match up?

A lot depends on how different the two personae are. Assuming they are very different, you’ll need to decide which of the two styles is more beneficial to your business and brand.

If you need to make your spoken self more lively and interesting – go on a public speaking course and read up on the subject.  There are some good articles that might be helpful here on HTWB, and I would also recommend Dr Simon Raybauld’s brilliant book, Presentation Genius. UK Amazon here, US Amazon here, also most other online booksellers. Also you might find attending your nearest ToastMasters group to be a very useful exercise – Google it for contact details in your area. They have 15,400 groups in 135 countries, so you should be in luck.

If you need to make your spoken self a bit less exuberant – remember that video picks up and exaggerates any movement you make, so practice talking about your business in front of a mirror while reducing the amount of movement of your head, face and arms. Do not use rude language and make yourself relax as much as possible.

For more tips on how to perform on video (and in live presentations) check out the articles in this category here on HTWB.

If you need to make your writing style more crisp and powerful, as well as more akin to the way you speak – browse the articles in this category here on HTWB.  This eBook of mine will be very helpful for you, too. Alternatively, you could hire a professional online copywriter to work with you, if only for a while until you get the hang of writing in a more appropriate style. Use Google to find the best ones in your town or city.

If you’re concerned that your written style on your website, blogs, social media etc. is too informal or brash – take a longer, harder look at your target audience. How do they write? How do they speak? How do they write for their own communications? LinkedIn posts? Other social media? Because these people are what makes your business tick, you can safely take your cue from them. However bear in mind that if you have become known for a slightly quirky but effective style of communicating with your customers and prospects, don’t spoil it by dampening it down.

Hope that’s helpful!

Please share your views and let us know how things go in this increasingly video-based online business environment…