MAKE ME FEEL SOMETHING OR GO HOME
: Two Secrets How To Make Your Readers Feel More

I have identified the profound reason I procrastinate with my writing. It isn’t that I have nothing to say on the page, or that I am not certain of my brand voice. It is because I don’t want to feel. Most of the time sitting down with a subject on my mind gets me going right away, but once I do, the decision has to be made: shall I go all the way with ardor and passion on this one, or shall I just procrastinate. And I do the second, because who wants to be an emotional tempest for every blog that needs to be published? 

Research shows that when people feel something, their brain chemistry switches to a mode where they notice, trust, and remember more. This is true both for the reader and the author. Your self-confidence, focus, and eloquence will greatly increase with emotion.

This is precisely why marketers are so big on studying neuroscience and emotions. We all know the benefits of making an emotional connection with our clients and readers. Still, writing in a way that entices and deeply seduces remains an unsurmountable task to most of us regular entrepreneurs.

Working in advertising and branding for 15 years, I now know that the answer isn’t studying more messaging templates, client avatars or brand voice charts. Although these are very helpful, your time is better spent studying how to write from an emotion. 

Writers that lack passion for their topics are the ones that lose their audience faster than the speed of thought. And to be clear, not all writing needs to be passionate. The bulk of writing done in the world of communications is flat and factual and that is okay.

But not for you. Because you are in the business of shaping ideas, not writing textbooks and boilerplate materials.
For the time being, you are the beating heart of your business.
And you better write by using your pulse, not the phalanges of an emotional corpse.

That being said, we do what we can in life. The human condition and taxes require us to opt out of too much thinking and feeling. So no, I won’t be giving you advice on how to boost emotions on command. What kind of monster do you think I am?

But I will leave you with one literary tool that you can use to make yourself, and your readers, plug into the heart softener pathways of text. And this tool is meant to not just make you feel anything, but to make you feel better. 

Let’s get to it…

HUMOR TURNED INTO SELF-IRONY
Irony is an effective rhetorical and literary device which, when directed towards ourselves, makes us more likable. It gives us permission to not take ourselves so seriously and keep an open mind to experience outside of our own.

How to apply it:

Whether you’re an author, consultant, or any other type of professional whose job doesn’t exactly sound exciting on the surface, adding some self-deprecating humor to your repertoire can help make you more likable and approachable. For example, to make my pitch more ironic, I can say  “I’m a brand strategist. I help clients make money by telling them how to do things they already know how to do.”

Here is a bonus example, used by Sara Runnels in her piece “A Non-Hiker’s Terms and Conditions for Hiking” originally published in The New Yorker:

“I am not out of shape, but I am not in shape, either, which means I am just kind of . . . a shape. Please respect this as we ascend the mountainside, and pause with me as often as necessary to say a small prayer, hydrate, briefly lie down, or check if we have magically entered an area with cell service. If you hear me breathing heavily, I’m just doing it to be dramatic, but if you could pack a travel-size oxygen tank in your nature bag, that’d be great.”

But if this example intimidates you, because humor is a hard task, do not fret. With self-irony, you don’t have to be necessarily funny. The amazing Angus Fletcher notes the difference between regular and self irony; “Regular irony makes us conscious that there’s truth that someone else doesn’t know; self-irony makes us conscious that there’s truth that our self doesn’t know.”

So all you have to do is take a light ironic view of yourself by acknowledging that you don’t know everything, and that you are open to hearing and knowing different points of view.

Advertising guru Jaques Seguela says this about emotion:

“There are three types of advertising in the world. British goes from the head to touch the heart – it’s intellectual. Latin advertising goes from the heart to the head – always too emotional. And the American advertising goes from the head to touch on the wallet. It’s very materialistic. The advertising of the future needs to go from the heart to touch the heart.”

So do what you gotta do. But also kill it with human-ness.
Do the unthinkable: steer an emotion, not a cosmetic connection.

Also, words with the letter “k” in them are scientifically funnier than other words. Kumquat over pear every time.

 



FANI NICHEVA
Partner & Troublemaker, Bigfish Smallpond Design
Brave Brander and Salad Smarty


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