Don’t get me wrong. I happen to think the conversational writing style is the greatest thing to hit business writing since the word processor. (Well, almost…)
But, there are some definite hazards associated with using a conversational style.
For one thing, there are some readers online who don’t understand what using a conversational style means. What you see as making your writing more accessible they see as making mistakes or as being sloppy. (That’s right–I said M.I.S.T.A.K.E.S.)
Secondly, there are some conversational practices that just should not make their way into your writing. Here are some of those:
- Cuss words. Maybe you cuss in your day-to-day conversations, but not everyone does and many people find this offensive.
- Derogatory language. I hope that you don’t use derogatory language on a regular basis, but if you do keep it out of your copy if you want to be perceived as a professional.
- Mispellings. When you speak, people can’t tell whether you can spell or not. But, when you write spelling becomes important to conveying your message.
- Regional Dialect. Unless you’re targeting readers in a specific location, keep regional dialect out of your writing if you want to be fully understood.
- Slang. Like regional dialect, you should consider using slang only if the audience you are targeting will understand the terms. (Keep in mind slang words change, sometimes rapidly.)
I’ve seen many writers fall prey to these hazards. One trick to keep your writing accessible is to remember to use the conversational style that most of your target audience would be comfortable with. This may, or may not, match your own natural conversational style.
Do you use a conversational style in your writing?