Will people love your voice?
I just read something that made me think about voice, that tricky aspect of writing that conveys personality. It comes across in the many decisions we make writing – what words we use and how we use them, what phrasing, attitude, tone and more besides.
Nailing voice is fundamental to success.
Get it right and people will remember you for the way you make them feel. Get it wrong and you’re just another messenger with forgettable information.
It’s not your information that encourages people to make a connection with you, trust you, believe in you.
It’s your voice.
But nailing it is hard.
I’ve been writing professionally for a very long time yet I find it hard to get my voice right for digital, to make it conversational and personal. I can do conversational okay but as a former journalist, I find it hard to include the personal.
Meredith Golden can ABSOLUTELY nail voice.
And her clients pay her very well for it.
Meredith is a ghostwriter for those looking for love on dating apps and websites. She charges $2000 (USD) a month to write their profiles and to act as them in the first online chats with potential love interests.
Two thousand dollars a month.
The New York Times featured Meredith in a recent article. It’s a great story about a very 21st-century approach to love matching. Take a look here.
Good on Meredith – she’s got a background in psychotherapy and she’s a good writer. Plus, she’s got the soft skills of empathy and creativity that are beyond the scope of artificial intelligence right now so her business is somewhat future proofed as well.
She also has a highly effective way of uncovering a client’s unique voice so she can ‘become’ them as the article explains.
‘She learns to imitate their conversational styles through the use of an eight-page intake form that includes specific questions: How do you take your coffee? Have you ever “swam with dolphins or stingrays or enormous turtles”?’
She marries empathy and investigation.
Through questioning her clients in a very detailed way, she learns more about them than they probably know about themselves. She gets to know the way they would respond in conversation – not just what they would say but the way they would say it.
She needs to know if they’d say ‘going to’ or ‘gonna’?
It’s essential to get their voice right so there’s no disconnect when the client finally does their own talking. How jarring would it be for your chat date to go from ‘Would you like to have coffee this weekend?’ to ‘Hey bro, how ‘bout we hang together?’.
It’s no different for businesses.
When we get to know a business and feel warm towards it, the brand’s voice has done its job drawing us in. To have a mismatch between that talk and the walk is a betrayal.
It would be like Meredith messing up her client’s voice so the love interest gets to know one personality but ends up meeting a different one.
Just like people, the best voices are genuine. The ones that have been developed through intention and understanding and self-knowledge. The ones that reflect what’s going on inside.
It’s not easy but as Meredith’s story shows, it can be worth it.
Getting my voice right has a lot to do with being courageous enough to strip away what I think I know about writing and offer something that leaves me feeling a little vulnerable. And I’m learning to be ok with that.