Have you ever gone up to sing karaoke with someone only to be horrified at your inability to instantly improvise something as complicated and nuanced as harmonizing to a soundtrack without practice? To attune yourself to a different sound or situation is to acknowledge that harmony happens in real-time. You have to have an ear for noticing the change as it happens if you want to keep up. Co-creating with clients feels like singing the alto harmony to their soprano melody. Keeping up means having a grounded writing style that can pivot and change as fast as their user needs do.
What cultural group are you harmonizing with?
Researchers in Sweden monitored choir singers’ heart rates as they performed various choral works and found that the heart rates fall into a shared rhythm guided by the song’s tempo (link). As the members sang together, their pulses began to speed up and slow down at the same rate.
There’s something really beautiful that happens physiologically when people are in sync with the people around them. Singing together forces participants to stop and breath at the same time which, in combination with the sensory stimuli, forces their bodies to be more in alignment with the people around them.
Before you write your content, pause and think about who you are trying to connect with and attune your style to match. All religions and cultures have some rituals or songs that bind them together. How could you immerse yourself into their culture and start writing from there?
Understanding how your message might resonate with your audience is essential to nail down before you start clicky clacky-ing away.
How to attune your writing style to your audience?
- Learn about your users. Become curious about who you are trying to connect with. Learn about the words and phrases they use to describe their ideas, so you can understand what kinds of content would even be engaging to them.
- Navigate your intentions. Are you trying to inform, describe, convince, or tell a story? Do you want to sound professional, humorous, or informative? You get to set your tone. Adapt your words to fit the message you want to convey.
- Simplify your ideas. Make sure your point is understood, even if someone only gives you a short amount of time or can’t read it due to poor translation. Is it a product? Is it a service? Focus on your customers’ core benefits and what they are looking for in using your product or service simply through visual means.
- Consider their emotions. What is the emotional state of your audience when they come to your website? Are they worried? Excited? Anticipating something? What you are trying to communicate might come across differently than your intention, so taking your customers into consideration is vital!
- JUST start writing. It’s as simple as that. Don’t look at the blank paper or sheet for too long. Use the words and thoughts that come naturally to you, like you are talking to your friend. Try using voice-to-text technology as a way to get a lot of content down and then bring it into Grammarly to make sure it’s coherent.
- Once you have something to review, ask for feedback. Does it make sense? When you read it out loud to someone, do the words flow naturally? Does the cadence feel cohesive? Don’t hold onto phrases and ideas on paper that don’t resonate in person. If you are taking your audience down a confusing path, you will lose them.
Transcreation vs. Translation
What if you have a lot of different cultural reference points to keep in mind? What if your website needs to translate into other languages and keep the same meaning?
You aren’t just translating the content. You may need to research how your imagery, iconography, and other visual elements might also need to be reconsidered to make sure it still resonates with this different audience.
Perception can change the whole point.
A big part of communicating to a multicultural audience is to use visuals as a form of hieroglyphics to allow your users navigate your site visually. This enhances the written content’s meaning if the translation isn’t perfect. Image symbolism and visual examples are essential to making sure your message translates to your digital design.
Make sure you understand what is implied by the context of the visuals to your intended audience. Want to dig more into transcreation? Here are some other reads:
- Transcreation Examples: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Transcreation – How To Define Transcreation and Transcreation Examples
- Six Ways Transcreation Differs from Translation
And if all else fails, hire someone. That’s right! There are people out there that write for a living, and lucky for you, we have that talent at CurlyHost! (Start a conversation about copywriting >>>)
Tools to improve your writing:
- Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com/) – We LOVE Grammarly (especially the pro version) This tool goes through writing on multiple platforms and addresses correctness, clarity, engagement, and delivery of your tone.
- Google Docs (https://www.google.com/docs/about/) – We also LOVE Google Docs. It is the perfect tool for collaboration, creating content from the ground up, or even reevaluating content from your current website.
I’ve performed in choirs, orchestras, and small groups, and the only way to not bomb in front of an audience is to practice. Practice is what makes any performance outstanding. No one just “gets it” on the first try. You aren’t going to just resonate with your audience on your first try either. Practice it. Writing in tune with your audience takes a structured approach that is iterative and asks for a lot of feedback.