If you’re reading this, I assume you know that words matter. It’s how we communicate—on paper, on the computer screen and in person.
And as a business owner, your words can make or break your business. They’re what sells your product or service and they’re what can help you move a project from dream to reality.
When you’re writing or speaking for business, it’s important to use words that speak for you and that sound like you. So often, people are wrapped up with the rules of writing when really they should be worried about being true to their own voice so they can give their audience what they’re looking for.
Put the rules away for a bit. It’s time to find your words. The ones that help to make your voice and your message clearer. The words that give your writing the personality that sets you apart from others in your industry. The ones that help people to decide whether or not they want to work with you.
I’ve created a worksheet to help you determine what those words are so you can keep them top-of-mind as you’re writing.
What words do you use?
You have words that you use all the time, both in business and with your friends and family. If there was an app that pulled the 10 words you use most often, what would they be? While not all of these will be appropriate to your business (my most-used word is likely my daughter’s name), many of them will be.
I’m not talking about words that relate to your industry (taxes, books, IRS for accountants or mindset, goals and systems for coaches). I’m talking about the words you use in natural conversation. Some of mine include educate, empower, for realsies, um… (said sarcastically), crap, seriously, etc. And the way I use these words sets the tone for what I write and brings out some of my personality—even in my business. For realsies.
Have you coined any new terms?
Business owners make up words all the time, to name their products and services or simply for lack of a better word to use. These are huge when it comes to getting to know your voice and keeping it consistent in your writing. Keep a list of your unique-to-you words handy so you’re sure to incorporate them into your content.
Do you have industry jargon?
Each industry has its own set of jargon that others may not know. I’ve found myself explaining what I mean by “copy” and explaining what a content coach does. There’s nothing wrong with others not being clear on this, but it’s important that I really communicate this information on a fairly regular basis.
If your industry is particularly technical, be sure to write your content in layman’s terms. And if you still struggle, have a friend or partner take a look at it before posting it for the world to read.
What words do you hate?
Think about the meaning behind those words and why you dislike them. There are words that really rub people the wrong way, aside from the obvious derogatory words meant to insult. For my sister, that word is “weird.” Never, ever call her “weird.” But go right ahead and call her quirky—she doesn’t mind that at all.
For me, I hate the word “phenomenal.” It was severely overused at previous job and became meaningless to me. It rubbed me the wrong way when new employees, who the boss said were “phenomenal” turned out to be more trouble than they were worth. To me, “phenomenal” turned into a term meant to describe “really crappy.”
Words are powerful, and they send a message to everyone who reads them. What message are you sending with your words? Is it consistent? Grab this worksheet to help identify how your words impact the message you’re sending and the voice you’re using.