How-to: Find Your Voice
The most flattering compliment I receive on an ongoing basis is that I write the way I speak. I consider that a compliment because as a writer I'm always striving to connect with my readers the way I (hope to) do when I have a warm, intimate conversation with someone in person.
Even if you're not a professional writer – if you blog, write advice articles or engage in social media, it is critical that you find your "voice." Simply defined, voice is a writer's style; the quality that makes her writing unique and which conveys her attitude, personality, and character. In the context of this article, it is the last three qualities that are most significant.
What Finding Your Voice Means to Your "Peeps"
If you are familiar with social media, you'll know that the terms 'peeps' doesn't refer to little twirping birds – unless of course, you consider the Twitter-bird. Your peeps refer to your people, your tribe, your following. And why do they follow your articles, blogs, tweets, and comments on Facebook? Generally because they like something about you. In this highly competitive world of communication, I think it is fair to say that someone really has to like you (your personality) a lot and, more particularly, they admire your values and character. Isn't that why you follow people and their work?
Don't Have Any Peeps?
Perhaps you're new to this mass communication thing or you've been struggling to develop a following for your business. Or, maybe you're not attracting the kind of people you'd like to. The answer is to find a way to connect with people, not by expert writing, but by getting across whatever you have to say in your unique voice.
How to Know When You Have Found Them
I remember a morning not so long ago (when I was blow-drying my hair, if the truth be known) when I realized, without a shadow of a doubt that I had found my passion, my voice and my peeps. I knew this to be true because instead of sitting blankly in front of my computer screen trying desperately to add something original to an already idea-saturated market, I had begun to engage the right kind of people and I had no other motive than to be heard – not for business or to get something. I started getting many more people commenting, asking questions and generally engaging than I had previously.
It should go without saying that we should always be doing that, but judging from the feedback I'm getting, many of us are forcing ourselves to join the social-media-driven conversation and it's coming off as inauthentic.
Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It:
1. Look around your office:
What do you see? In mine, I see two statues of the Buddha, my meditation alter, the words "Bliss" and "Cherish." I see a poster which says: "Open mind, open heart." I also see a picture of two gorgeous long legs with hosiery seams up the back that says, "Diva" – in case you think I'm a little too Zen! Chances are, whatever you've surrounded yourself with (please don't tell me you work in an uninspiring, sterile space) encompass your values and that, my friend, is part of your "voice." Use that to communicate your message.
2. Write what's in your heart:
Sacrifice just one week of business-type blogging and other social media, and simply write whatever is in your heart. Now, before you jump on me, I understand that many of us have made a conscious decision to only use Twitter and Facebook for our businesses. I realize that the vast majority are not interested in where we walked our dog this morning. But do you know what? When judiciously shared, I get a lot of shout-outs from my "strictly business peeps" when I comment on something personal. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
3. Keep a notebook beside your bed:
And in your bathroom and in your car and jot down thoughts that come to you that in some way you'd like to share. Then, before you send them out into the blogosphere, try writing them in several different ways until you hit on exactly what and how you'd say it in person, to a close personal friend. I bet you anything, you'll have found your voice.
Until next time, remember to be authentically you and have fun finding your unique and inspiring voice!
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