For many a weary year, I lived and breathed in The Ivory Tower. Academia was a good match for me in a lot of ways. Verbosity is often appreciated, as are ludicrously long words. If you use words that would score well in Scrabble (well, other than cheating words like “ef”) you get magical academic-geek kudos. Very valuable.
As you might have noticed, however, I am not in academia any longer. I am squarely in the business and marketing world. When I first started blogging here, or, well, at Blogspot originally, then…well, I’ve migrated a lot, but anyway, when I first started blogging for my professional account, I had a touch of writer’s laryngitis. I knew that the academic tone wouldn’t work here. You don’t hear a lot, though, about “Business Blog vernacular.” I didn’t really know how to talk.
This problem carried over into my Twitter account (I’ve always been a believer in integrated marketing, and my own lost voice was no exception). As I have mentioned before, when I started using Twitter, I thought it would be fun to post as “The real life mad man.” I thought I could present myself as a female version of Don Draper, a fictional male character who lives in the 1950s/60s. Apart from the fact that I don’t cavort, drink, smoke, or do most other things that Don Draper does in Mad Men, I couldn’t really make a connection with that voice either.
That’s right. I had laryngitis-itis.
I am not Frodo Baggins
I began to think that I would have to go on a wild adventure to find the voice that I would use for my blog and for my Twitter account. Would I have to pull my voice out from the fires of Mount Doom? And by the way, did I need one voice for my blog and one for my Twitter account, or would I need just one voice to cover both?
Well, my journey did end up being kind of an adventure (although it would make a REALLY boring movie), and here is what I learned.
You are the voice-bearer. It is already within you. If you can talk, if you can write an email, if you can communicate with others versus an expression of your feelings through language, then you can blog and tweet with your own voice.
This is where the 17-step process goes
I’d love to tell you that I went through a certain number of steps to realize that I just needed to be me, but really, as is the case with so much in the Social Media world, I just learned by doing. I can give you a couple of pointers though.
• Shed the idea of a “persona” the way a snake sheds its skin. Leave it by the wayside. People don’t engage with ethereal auras. They engage with other people. You’re a person (or a Google bot). Act like yourself.
• Don’t worry about whether your voice is professional. Now understand, voice is different from language, just like lyrics to a song are quite different from the delivery. Axl Rose could try to sing an anthem from Don Giovanni, but it just would not quite work. Your language needs to be professional (assuming you are blogging for business), but the delivery does not need to remind people of a conference room or a presentation.
• If you are still feeling a little lost, blog via real life talking first. Ask yourself a question, or have someone ask you a question, and listen to how you answer it. Maybe even record it. Your blog, essentially, is the same exact thing. You are talking to 1 person at a time about something you think they might be interested in. In terms of Twitter, it’s even easier to just be yourself in some ways because Twitter is about a more regular exchange of thoughts and ideas.
I know that it can be scary to just throw your own voice onto a website for people to evaluate, but ultimately, at least for me, it was the only way I could get comfortable. My voice is my voice, whether I’m here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or via an email. I know that because “voice” turns out not to be something that you can find. It’s just your voice. You have it and use it all the time.
Try blogging and tweeting the way you talk. Maintain a tone as you would at work or at a professional convention, but be yourself. Be authentically you. And let me know if that helps.