Storytelling Tip: Talk on Paper
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version
By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
Today’s tip: Talk on paper. Make your writing informal and conversational.
And the simplest way I know to do that is to break some of the rules of grammar you learned in school. We’ve barely started. And I’ve already broken five of them. I’ll be getting ticketed by the grammar cops if I’m not careful.
I want to introduce you to the Seven Nevers, which I found some years ago in a wonderful book called Writing with Style by John R. Trimble.
The Seven Nevers are seven rules you learned in school that Trimble suggests — and I agree — are worth ignoring at least some of the time:
- Never begin a sentence with But or And.
- Never use contractions.
- Never refer to the reader as you.
- Never use the first-person pronoun I.
- Never end a sentence with a preposition.
- Never split an infinitive.
- Never write a paragraph containing only one sentence.
The trouble with the Seven Nevers is that they get in the way of talking to your audience when you’re putting words on paper or online, which is to say when you’re writing instead of speaking.
If you’re in the business world, and you probably are if you’re reading this, most of your writing is designed to persuade the rest of us — or some of us, at least — to buy something or believe something.
We’re more likely to do that if what you have to say is interesting and easy to read. So, imagine you’re talking to your audience and write that way. Talk on paper. It works.
And it really is okay to ignore the Seven Nevers at least part of the time. Your teachers were nice people, most of them anyway. And they meant well. But they taught you some things — like the Seven Nevers — worth unlearning.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?
Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.
Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.