Before I started writing this article, I poked around the vast online universe to see what kind of advice others were giving on this topic.
Just to clarify, I’m not talking about writing books. That’s way outside my wheelhouse.
I’m talking about marketing, like writing articles for LinkedIn, blogs, newsletters, or trade publications.
Many of the tips I found for finding your writing voice were… interesting. They include:
Write down three words that best describe you.
List your biggest influences (artistic, cultural, professional, etc.).
List your favorite authors/writers and why you like them.
Write and write and write some more.
Read and read and read some more.
None of these tips are necessarily bad. Some can be helpful.
But much of the advice about finding your writing voice is based on the misconception that writing voice is the same as writing style.
What Voice Is and Is Not
Voice isn’t about the language you use or how you structure sentences and paragraphs. And it has absolutely nothing to do with grammar.
Voice is far more personal.
Voice is your unique perspective and personality. How you express your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. How you convey your values and beliefs. The tone you use to tell stories.
This defines who you are and helps you connect with the reader.
Your voice is who you are.
There should be no difference in voice for writing, speaking engagements, presentations, podcasts, interviews, or any other platform or environment.
There’s just your voice. Period.
This distinctive voice should shine through in all forms of communication, whether on a screen, on paper, or in person.
Should you adapt your style, language, and tone depending on the format and audience? Possibly.
For example, the CEO of a large accounting firm might use a more formal approach with an article for an industry publication than a blog article.
But your voice – who you are and how you express yourself – should remain consistent.
To Find Your Voice, Hit the “Record” Button
The harder you have to look to find your voice, the less authentic that voice will be. In fact, you shouldn’t have to look beyond your own heart, soul, and brain.
The easiest and most authentic way to find your voice is to listen to yourself, unscripted. Open the voice recording app on your phone, hit the round red button, and set the phone down.
Record actual conversations with clients and prospects. Record Zoom meetings with people you just met at networking events. Listen back to those recordings to gain a better understanding of how you express yourself.
There’s a reason they call it your writing voice.
Writing should reflect how you speak. Not just the words, but the personality, tone, and emotion you express, the values you convey, and the stories you tell.
Like David Ogilvy said, “Write the way you talk. Naturally.”
The closer your writing replicates how you speak in a real-world conversation, the more authentic and natural it will sound.
My job is to write content for my clients in their voice. I’ve never once asked them to define their voice.
Instead, I hit the “record” button and ask a lot of questions. What they say and how they say it defines their voice and gives me all the direction I need.
I’ve also never believed you can “create” your voice. And the last thing you want to do is copy someone else’s.
“Be a voice, not an echo,” as Albert Einstein said.
You’re born with your voice. It can evolve, but it’s always inside you. Embrace it.
Some say you need to keep writing and writing to find your voice. I would spend some time listening first.
Work on becoming a more natural storyteller and communicating with clarity, conviction, and personality. Incorporate those qualities into your writing or work with a writer who knows how to capture your voice.
The better you understand who you are and how to express yourself, the more powerful and confident your voice will be, and the stronger connections you’ll make.