You know it's me 'cause I signed my name
Why is it, that in the vast majority of the correspondence or marketing materials sent to me by CEO’s and other executives, the only way I can tell it’s from them is because they have attached their name to it? Why does it read as if it could have been written by anyone? Obviously... because it was.
This cookie cutter approach to corporate communication has to end. Too much of our written communication is devoid of all personality and character. Every piece seems to use the same rhetoric. Every piece has the same kind of meaningless phrasing. The scary part is that we persist in producing this homogenised drivel and then wonder why they are not getting the impact or cut-through we were after. How dopey do you have to be?
We cannot continue to eliminate the individual voice from our communication. It is absolutely crucial to not only getting your message across in some sort of meaningful way but also lies at the very heart of authentic leadership.
This is an absolute non-negotiable. Everyone’s writing needs to be different from everyone else’s. The only way that happens is if, as writers, we make different choices when we write - different choices about the topics we choose, the stories we tell, the words we use, the details we include, different beginnings, different endings, and so on. That set of different choices determines our “voice” in a piece of writing.
Your voice, sometimes referred to as “tone” or “mood” or even “style,” tells the reader about your personality.
It is a reflection of your original thoughts and personal feelings, your particular way of seeing things and interpreting them, your philosophy and your beliefs. It should be purposeful, powerful, and uniquely your own.
When I read something sent out by a CEO or corporate leader I should be able to have the feeling that no one else could have written it. Their individuality and their personality should come through. If I don’t know them then I should be able to feel that I am getting to know them and, if I do know them, I should be able to imagine them saying the things they have written. In other words, I should be able to see and hear you in your writing. I should recognise your voice.
When I can’t see and hear you in your writing I do what everyone else does… I discount the importance of what is being said or I stop reading altogether.
If you want impact and cut-through in your writing, whether it be an article, memo, instruction, or marketing message then you must develop your voice. If you don’t, people will stop reading and, soon after, stop listening as well.