Can we talk?

People want to talk, especially if the subject is very personal or important.

Study after study has shown that employees want to receive information by talking to their boss and colleagues.

But we don’t need research to confirm the value of talking. Look around your own life.

We talk the most to our nearest and dearest.

We get offended when a co-worker two cubicles away sends an email about something that could have been handled better in person. We are hurt when a friend bails via a text message. We get pissed when a call center rep reads from a script instead of discussing our problem. We zone out when a presenter reads the text on his slides.

Social media communication is often referred to as conversation, because it promotes two-way dialogue. But it is not as engaging as talking because we are writing, mostly to people who don’t know well. Despite some rare gems, we see mostly banalities like “great post, dude” or “awesome movie ” or the dreaded 140-character sales pitch.

When I have a truly important response to a DM, email or update, I will suggest that we meet for coffee or I’ll pick up the phone. That’s because talking says you are valued.

Talking is also easier because we’ve been doing it since we were about two years old.

Talking engages, because we know we need to involve and stimulate the listener.

Talking is interesting. Although colorful language often rolls off the tongue, it usually fails to flow from the brain to our fingers and keyboard.

No matter how much time we spend on it every day, writing is more difficult, slower and less engaging for the vast majority of people. I’m sure neurologists will soon reveal the scientific explanation.

Of course the problem with talking is that we’re limited to the people we’re talking to in person or on the telephone, unless we have our own television, radio or podcast show. To reach more people, we need to write.

But what if we took what works about talking and applied what we could to writing? Would writing become faster, easier and more engaging?

And what if we took what works best about writing and preserved it? I’m talking about the ability to think about who we want to connect with, what we want to say and how we’re going to say it before we start writing.

I’m also talking about the ability to revise–shorten and focus, fix the mistakes that make us look bad, replace phrases to become easier to understand—before we hit send, publish or print.

That’s why I’m calling the book I’m drafting Write Like You Talk–Only Better.


2 Responses

  1. So true! Ever since becoming a freelancer (I used to work in a corporate cubicle 🙂 I spend much time talking to people in coffeeshops… and I reflect this in a prominent element on my web site: see for my take, which agrees with yours quite well!

    Good luck with the book – I like the title.

  2. Nice site. Good hear I’m not the only person who feels this way.

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