You’re not just up against your competitors.
You’re battling for people’s attention like never before.
If your or your organisation’s voice is blending in, here are seven ways to start unearthing your hidden voice:
Take a step back
When was the last time you stopped to reflect on why you started your business or took the role you’re in now?
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and lose sight of your bigger goals. Most people want to make a difference, but many end up in a sea of sameness.
- Writing in a particular style because others are
- Being too afraid to stand out
- Not knowing what their hidden voice really is.
If that sounds like you, hit pause and think about what you’re looking to achieve. How will your authentic tone of voice help you get there?
Read your competitor’s websites
Visit two or three websites of your closest competitors. Write down your honest thoughts about the tone of voice, how the words make you feel and the type of language they use.
Now go to your site. Try to detach yourself emotionally and write down notes on the same points.
- Are there any similarities?
- Do your words specifically address customer pain points and how your product or service can help?
- How quickly does your content convey your most important messages?
And if your copy is company-centric, that’s another reason to look at refreshing it.
Change isn’t always easy. As a result, many people tend to resist it.
Whether you’re a business owner or marketing manager, taking the first step to change your tone of voice isn’t easy.
However, if the words on your website and other materials are inauthentic, being brave and shaking things up is the obvious next step.
Carrying out a simple audit like in the point above or sending a questionnaire to some key people in your organisation can be a good starting point to kick off the conversation.
Read your content out loud
When you’ve written a new web page or blog post, it might look good on the screen. But how does it sound?
Taking a few minutes to read your content aloud can be enlightening, either to yourself or someone else. Of course, you could also record it on your phone and listen back to it.
Hearing the words might make you cringe, rethink, or question if they sound authentic. For example, the following sentence might read perfectly fine:
“We are a small UK charity focused on delivering a powerful impact for service users and stakeholders.”
Does that sound like how you’d talk to someone? Would that make a member of the public want to donate their time or money? Does it sound more like cold corporate-speak?
It’s not easy finding your authentic voice in a world of information overload.
We can be subconsciously influenced by what we hear and read without realising it.
For example, you may have seen a blog post a competitor wrote a few weeks ago getting lots of likes and comments. Part of that may come through in your writing on a similar topic.
Before you start, it’s worth taking a few minutes to sit quietly and clear your mind. Some people call it meditation, others mindfulness, but the label isn’t important.
A lot of the noise in your mind will start up, but when you persevere and focus on your breathing, you’ll find a bit of clarity will shine through.
You owe it to yourself and your organisation not to lazily follow the crowd.
When you have tone of voice guidelines aligned with your ethos and goals, this will become much easier.
Channel your authenticity
Being more authentic in communicating doesn’t mean you have to share every part of yourself and your business. For example:
- Do your customers want to hear your political views?
- Is ranting about a competitor or LinkedIn comment showing you in the best light?
- Are you speaking up on things you feel people expect you to, or do you really want to?
An easy way to channel your authenticity is to pick a few core content themes you and your audience are interested in. Then, your passion and expertise will come across effortlessly, and you’ll attract more of your ideal customers.
Provide as much helpful information on these topics as possible, even if it feels counter-productive at first.
I’m doing it right now.
Stripping things back
Authenticity isn’t something you can force.
From my experience, I’d say it’s always within us. The problem is that outside influences such as TV, social media, fear of losing money/opportunities, and expectations can cloud who we are and what we want to say.
I’ve purposely stripped back a lot of the things taking up my time and energy. For example, I don’t watch TV. I avoid social media apart from LinkedIn. I stopped drinking alcohol, and I no longer worry about what other people think of me.
By peeling away these layers, I started to discover my hidden voice. Everyone’s different though, so I’m not for a minute suggesting you follow my advice. Instead, you need to find what works best for you.
Authenticity should feel light and easy. Like I feel now writing this post. I’m enjoying myself and don’t want to stop writing.
I will stop though! Please follow The Hidden Voices on LinkedIn for more tips if you found this helpful.