Authenticity to inspire

By Shae Lalor

Authenticity in writing inspires action. Just as you would connect on a personal level with another human, being authentic in your writing draws interest and attracts a connection.

Is it difficult to be authentic when writing? Yes, particularly if you're not clear on the content or purpose of the piece. It is certainly difficult to fake being authentic. That's why real stories about real people feeling actual emotions get through to many readers.

Writing for business may seem a strange place to inject emotion. But ultimately, every letter, web page or report is seeking some type of result. Emotion is a great way to garner action.

Documentaries and well-produced reality TV shows often rely on emotion to attract interest. When it is raw, truthful and authentic, it can make you feel like you are intruding into their struggles and joys.

That's how good writing should feel too. The reader can become a fly on the wall or somehow part of your story. And your writing can make them feel something real.

The best way to get your writing read is to engage the reader right from the start. Take them on a journey. Tell a story. Offer an insight. Clearly state what you are offering or requiring.

This extract from Improve your writing to improve your credibility from the Harvard Business Review explains how authenticity can enhance credibility - an essential ingredient in a competitive, business world:

Also help readers trust you by obsessing about your credibility. You know how to be credible in person: Be charming and forthright, tell the truth, and present solid evidence and logic. If obsessing doesn’t come naturally to you, delegate someone to do it for you, checking your facts, the clarity of the relationships between facts, your spelling and grammar, and your tone. Even if you are obsessive, you may want to find a colleague or friend you can rely on to be your first critical reader and help you be your best self in writing.

Interestingly, I think many of us struggle with being authentic. It is hard to show who we really are to the world, especially when we're trying to sell something or impart our brand essence. And being authentic as a person, let alone a writer, takes time, trust, patience and practice!

So try these suggestions for capturing authenticity in your writing:

  • use your own (or a consistent) tone and style
  • add humour if it feels right
  • write how you would verbally tell the story
  • use clever analogies or linkages
  • be charming but not arrogant (unless that's what you're aiming for)
  • use facts (that are checked!)
  • believe in what you are writing
  • offer a clear 'call to action' - explain what you want the reader to do
  • edit, edit, edit!

And don't set out to inspire. Just aim to be authentic.

Yes, in all my research, the greatest leaders looked inward and were able to tell a good story with authenticity and passion. - Deepak Chopra

 

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