Why we read you

We read you because you are you. Because you sound like you, talk like you.

You are identifiable, clear, and you have a point of view. Whether that is polished or rough, grammatical or not…whether you use ellipses and start your sentences with “and” are all part of what make you you.

We read you because you teach us, or challenge us, or make us laugh.

You give us a feeling we’ve come to expect most of the time, and a feeling that surprises us some of the time.

By reading you we tell ourselves a little something about who we are. When we share what you’ve written with others, we are sharing what you’ve said and, also, shared a glimpse of what makes us us.

We can’t read “you” (an identifiable someone) if we can’t identify you, if you don’t sound like something.

If you’ve read this far and are still nodding, you’ve got no choice but to conclude that your organization’s voice isn’t supposed to sound like nothing and no one. If you’re nothing and no one, we won’t miss you when you’re gone.

 

THE SAME SUBJECT LINE

Every time you send an email you’re asking someone to make a decision.

Open this now or later.

Prioritize it or put in the “I’ll get to it later” pile.  (And later never comes.)

When you write your spouse, your best friend, your boss, you write a subject line that will help them understand why you are writing, help them understand how important the message is (or isn’t), help communicate something.  The subject line is the second thing they see when your email arrives (the first thing they see is that you sent it).

If it goes without saying that you would never, ever, send one person an email with the same subject line each and every time, how can it be that I still get newsletters whose subject is the name of the newsletter, conference invites whose subject is the name of the conference, offers from companies with the company name as the subject in big capital letters?

As in: NONPROFIT NEWSLETTER VOL 3

Or

SOLAR INDUSTRY CONFERENCE SPECTACULAR

Why oh why?

Just because you are writing something for an institution doesn’t mean you’re supposed to sound like an institution.  Please, sound like you.

 

Permission

I’m not much of a glass-breaker, usually.  My natural tendency is to build consensus, get buy-in.  And I’ve kind of had it with this approach.

I’m not planning to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I’m realizing that sometimes I need to get the heck out of my own way.

Before you say to someone, “I thought you might want to know that I’m planning to…” make sure you know why you’re saying it.  Do you need input and approval, or are you really just saying “I’m telling you this because this way you have a chance to say ‘no,’ and if you don’t, it means that you’ve OKed what I’m about to do.”

Nice to have the approval but what happens when:

  1. Folks say no; or
  2. They weigh in with a different opinion, and you need to do something with their advice?

One way to tell why you’re asking: if someone were to say, “no way,” would you do it anyway?  If so, then what are you gaining by asking?

Go ahead, break something.

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