Three secrets for writing and reading the way you talk

Monday, September 28, 2015
 [Prepared for a forthcoming installment in the Rivet blog.]

One of the toughest jobs in the world of audio and broadcasting is to sound like you’re not reading. Even when you are.
But your goal should be to write something that, when read, doesn’t sound like it was written and doesn’t sound like it’s being read. Because when you sound like someone talking about something you know instead of reading something that’s written, you sound more credible and authentic.

Here are three keys to writing and reading conversationally:

1. Use contractions whenever you can. If it helps, run a find-and-replace to swap out (for instance) will for llis for sare for re, would for d, etc.
2. Use pronouns whenever you can. That’s the way we talk. Take a quiz.
3. Don’t stress prepositions (of, by, for, in), conjunctions (and, butor articles (a, the). In musical terms, they’re the grace notes of speech — present, but just barely. Save your emphasis for nouns and verbs. (Exceptions: “... OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people.”)

Bonus tip: The word “the” is pronounced thuh except when it appears before a word that begins with a vowel sound. (Thee elephant, thee NFL; but thuh cat, thuh president.) The word “a” is almost always pronounced uh. (Exceptions: For emphasis, as in “He’s not just A man, he’s THEE man.”) Take a quiz.

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