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Copywriting Tip #5 for English Majors: Why Voice Matters

with 4 comments

The human voice will always reign as king of communication.

words contextualize our presence and vice versa

I recently talked with a pastor who opted out of social media. Entirely. If he wanted to connect with someone, he picked up the phone.

“That seems anachronistic,” I said.

“No—that’s how I connect,” he said. “I talk with people.”

And then I realized: Yes! The sound of the human voice will never go away entirely. People may joke about removing the phone app from their phone, but that remains a joke. There’s something about the human voice that demands a response and always will. The human voice has a directness that goes beyond any technology, whether text or tweets or simple words on a piece of paper or images scattered on a cave wall. When our advertisements don’t get through, when our emails fall short, when our Facebook message goes unanswered, we go stand in front of someone and ask our question.

The human voice will always reign as king of communication–it says “I’m here. I’m present.”

Students in my professional writing classes at Northwestern College wander the web with ease. But they are loathe to pick up the phone to talk with people about potential job prospects. This is, perhaps, a pitfall with pursing writing. But perhaps the pitfall itself can show the way forward.

As copywriters we try to use that voice. We mimic it by writing in a conversational manner. With short sentences. We try to “sound” like the voice—“sound” because the sound is in a reader’s head (so—not really a sound). The more our writing sounds like the human voice, the more invisible it becomes—with the goal of messages that get into one’s mind without someone remembering they just read something. Kind of like how you drive to work everyday.

Unconvinced? Check out this German ad (and below) about organ donation. The pathos in the voices is unmistakable, even if you don’t speak German. But the voice is magnified by the dialysis chair. In the train station. It’s a bit of theater that amplifies the voice.

Context switching—from hospital to busy platform—becomes that platform that makes the human voice all that much more effective. The voice, plus the human before them—hard to resist. And emotion is a definite part of this.

Moral: “Write like you talk” is good advice. And not easy to achieve.

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Image via thisisnthappiness

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Written by kirkistan

May 9, 2012 at 5:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. I are not be a English major.

    I are might even be a high level operative in the GGRL (Gram’r Gestopo Resistance League).

    So that said this post is very puzzling to me as throughout my academic “career” I was told that my writing in my voice was in fact “wrong”.

    So which is it?

    • Thank you for your comment, Comrade! Your voice exceeding fetching and lovely is and full of human activity. Sometimes academic point all toward academy. Not all belong there.

      kirkistan

      May 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

  2. Yes but driving the People’s truck with vigor and grace–which is how I’m praying (this very moment!) that you do it.

    kirkistan

    May 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm


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