Talk to your ideal reader

Pretend you’re talking to your ideal reader. That’s what I advise people who want to better connect with customers, colleagues or other people through emails, reports, tweets or other written communication.

Although we learned language by talking, many of us began separating the functions of talking and writing at school and then work. By reuniting them, you can put some bounce and intimacy back into your writing. Besides, it’s much easier and faster to write like you talk.

But how, my ideal reader would ask, do you do that when you’re writing for a group of people?

Like presenting to a group, you focus on a few friendly faces in the crowd, but give the impression you’re talking to everyone.

So if you know the group you’re writing for, pretend you’re talking to one person you’re comfortable with. If your group includes people of varying interests, pretend you’re conversing with a few differing types.

If you’re writing for a large group, potentially the world when you write for the web, pretend you’re chatting with the kind of people you expect would most enjoy or otherwise benefit from your writing. Visualize one, with good looks, deep pockets or whatever else motivates you.

Start with the ideal reader’s age, gender, income, education or other demographic information. But don’t stop there.

Go deep, imagining pains and problems, pass-times and passions. What keeps your ideal reader up at night? What makes your ideal reader jump for joy?

By writing for this ideal reader, you can establish a more intimate connection with other like-minded readers. You can choose your most appropriate structure, for example emotional stories or logical argument. What’s more, you can employ the terminology, examples, humor, questions and other elements that your ideal reader would relate to and enjoy.

Draw a picture or grab a photo and tape it to your monitor. Give your ideal reader a name. Draft a Facebook-like profile. Whatever works for you.

Who is my ideal reader? For this blog, my ideal reader wants to learn how to communicate more easily and effectively through the written word, without having to relearn all those boring rules from school.

My ideal reader is well-educated, probably not in the arts, with a white collar job. He wants to move up. My ideal reader is frustrated with all the emails, reports and other written work he is expected to do and the fact that his colleagues and clients don’t give him the attention and respect he feels he deserves.

For this post, my ideal reader becomes more specific. In addition to overcoming these frustrations, she wants to build a relationship with her readers, to encourage them to pay attention, remember and maybe even respond a specific way.

Am I on target? Does my ideal reader sound like you?

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One Response

  1. This is a great place I can not believe that I didn’t wander onto it sooner.

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