Six tips for sounding more conversational online

Anything you read should come across naturally, as if you were speaking to someone in real-life. It helps your audience connect with you and visualise a human being rather than a robot on the other side of your communication.

It’s actually harder than it sounds. We’ve been taught to write formally since our school days. It’s been perceived that using long words and correct grammar is the right way to conduct ourselves and our business online. When using channels like email, chat, notifications and even text, many companies stick to the formalities.

Well, not anymore. Companies who communicate like humans with their customers have the winning edge. It’s not hard to understand why people prefer to connect socially. It actually feels like you’re speaking directly to them, rather than receiving messages that sound overly formal, or as if you’re addressing lots of people at once.

Here are some tips to incorporate conversational tone into your communications:

Introduce yourself

When using chat or other live communication forms, you should start off with some personal details like your name, the same as you would in real-life. Explain what it is you can do to help your customer, and ask them questions that show genuine interest. The introduction should make anyone at the other end of the conversation feel at ease.

Make it two-way

In real-life, we hardly ever have conversations where one person speaks for a significantly long time. Unless, perhaps they’re telling a lengthy story. But even then, the listener usually interrupts with a reaction or question or two.

Stick with this conversational twoway format in online, written communications to be more authentic and focused on the person you’re chatting with. Try to understand their goal and then you can more easily give them what they want, making them feel understood.

Say it aloud

If you’re struggling with making your tone conversational and chatty, a simple trick is to say it aloud. As you write, saying it aloud can help you judge the words as if you were saying them in a spoken conversation. If it doesn’t sound natural, it’s not conversational so you should probably redraft what you’ve written.

Don’t use jargon

Unless you’re talking to people within your industry, jargon doesn’t provide value. Your customers are likely not as familiar with the ins and outs of your industry, so just use simple language that they’ll definitely understand. You’ll avoid any confusion and the reader will feel much more comfortable if you’re speaking in their language.

Keep it short

No-one wants an essay. Avoid using too many words when you really don’t need to. For example, why say, “At this point in time” when “now” works just fine? When you’re proofreading over your drafted communications flag any phrases or multi-syllable words that can be shortened.

Break grammar rules

Remember when you were told you can’t start sentences with “But”? You can forget rules like that if you’re aiming to speak to your customers conversationally. By doing so, you maintain a relaxed, real-life sounding flow and it can make your writing seem more personable.

Make sure you don’t take it too far, there is a baseline of what’s acceptable and what’s not with grammar. For example, you’ll probably want to avoid misusing terms like, “She could of told me” which should be “She could have told me”.

The number one rule with conversational messaging is to just write as you talk. It might seem strange at first, but the shift to more personal marketing and communications means your brand can be more relatable to its customers.