Sunday, June 19, 2005

Finally, Empirical Wisdom Behind Conversational Writing

I've been finding Hugh MacLeod endlessly fascinating. Reading his blog is quite an education in the way the world is going. Today, I was reading January's archive and came across this little nugget of wisdom. The point is one I've made repeatedly, but the reasoning behind it is new to me, but eminently sensible.

Interesting stuff from Kathy at Headrush. Her day job includes writing books on brain behavior:

When you lecture or write using conversational language, your user's brain thinks it's in a REAL conversation!

In other words, if you use conversational language, the listener/reader's brain still thinks it has to hold up its end, so it pays more attention. It really is that simple, and that powerful (at least if you really want to help users pay attention and remember your message).

If you're using formal language in a lecture, learning book (or marketing message, for that matter), you're worrying about how people perceive YOU. If you're thinking only about the USERS, on the other hand, you're probably using more conversational language.
Which is why most marketingspeak is so utterly dreadful. Technically, it's trying to sell you something. Non-technically, it's telling you to go #@%& yourself.

There it is: scientific justification for having a human voice when telling stories about companies. This is a scary thing to so many and I've never really understood why. One of life's persistent questions.

More from Kathy from Headrush. This girl has got it going on.

If you want to create passionate users, spend time around passionate users.

Even better, spend time around others who are also trying to inspire passion in others. There's plenty of brain research that explains why you should surround yourself with passionate, energetic people and stay away from the, "This job would be great if it weren't for the frickin' USERS" people. If you want to be more creative, spend time around more creative people. Better problem solving? Spend time with those who spend more time looking for solutions than complaining about problems.