PS – Still Glad You Asked

I’ve been thinking about my previous answer (see previous post) to this question: I am transitioning to a new professional area, what advice can you give regarding finding my voice in my new career? – Melissa in Wisconsin

And I have more to say about it. In my first answer I talked about “finding” her voice by recognizing it. And in order to recognize it, it must be differentiated from the other voices… the “not her” voices. The “other people think this is a good idea” voices.

I think that’s the most crucial piece. But there are other parts to add on, too, if Melissa wanted to.

(1) Free Association

As she’s figuring out what differentiates her “voice” from others’ voices, she could write down the words that describe that emerging style.

This is accomplished free-association style (aka “brain dump.”) At this point, it is important to note that nothing is “stupid” or “wrong” or “not good enough” or any other value judgment. This openness allows Melissa to explore how she wants to express herself.

Here’s a sample list:
Conversational
Warm
Light
Cheerful
Authoritative (but nicely)
Inviting
Direct

(2) Skim the List

Next, Melissa can revisit the list. She may want to do it right away, or maybe she’ll leave the list alone for a day or two… or a week or two. There is no magical timeline on this.

When she revisits the list, she’ll read through it and mark off the words that aren’t really reaching out and grabbing her. Or she’ll circle the words that are grabbing her.

Conversational
Warm
Light
Cheerful
Authoritative (but nicely)
Inviting
Direct

(3) Consider Your Audience

Only after Melissa has completed Steps 1 and 2 should she consider her audience.

Most people do this backward.

This is because they are listening to the other voices in their heads… the ones that sputter out jargon: Target market! ROI! Niche! Millennials! And whatever else. The terms are interchangeable with whatever’s “hottest” at the moment.

Yes, it is important to consider how your audience wants to be talked to, but it’s more important to consider who the heck you are, and what language you are speaking first.

Knowing those things – who the heck you are and what language you area speaking – will actually help you understand who your audience is. Doing it the other way around results in your audience defining you.

And when that happens, you are just like everybody else in the faceless, nameless marketing crowd. Yes, be professional; yes, be appropriate. But overall, be yourself.

That’s what people are craving from a service provider.

Shine on,
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I’m Mary Beth Huwe, content strategist. I help entrepreneurs identify, articulate, and translate their most essential messages into kickin’ content that is engaging, communicative, and practical.


These essays are forays into the art and essence of communication. They have not been subjected to the full scrutiny of my editor’s eye(s), and may contain typos. (But you’ll probably never find apostrophe abuse, because that’s just cruel.)