Why Talking Like A Human Requires An Actor’s Mindset

As your fingers hit the keyboard to respond to that email – do you find yourself ever pausing?

If you’re in marketing, communications or PR, I bet your answer is “Every.Single.Time.”

Getting a message across is still an art form, as evidenced by the amazing amount of useless info and poorly written emails we all receive every single day.

It’s important to be thoughtful.
But sometimes, being thoughtful is actually dehumanizing.
Scrubbing what makes us human is what we often end up doing when we’re editing and thinking.

A while back, I realized that when I sat down to right something for a client, I actually had to get into the “voice.” This is especially true, when I’m ghostwriting, as I’ve done regularly over the years for notable personalities. When I heard a fantastic interview with Bradley Cooper on NPR talking about how the character of Chris Kyle, the central character in his movie American Sniper, actually took over his body, I found myself strangely relating, even though I am not an actor and I do not play one on TV.

I realized, my process for getting into “client voice” is very similar to acting. I usually need some time to let the voice get into my head. During that time, I can’t do anything else; it takes extreme focus, for me at least. I have a variety of processes, but it always involves finding the cadences and frequently used phrases of the person I am writing for. And if it’s a business, I find or create an amalgamation of characters which represent the business so the content has a “real voice.” This also explains why it takes me more and more time to blog for myself – I actually have to “re-center” to find my voice, which is deeply disconcerting…but I digress.

And this is extremely important, because for all our technology, for all our communication outlets, the reader on the other end is undeniably “real” and undeniably inundated with marketing messages.

Several years ago, I started advising people to “Stop Talking Like a Marketer and Start Talking Like A Human.” It’s basically become a mantra for me .

And it’s because, for all this talk over the last couple of years about humanizing businesses, very few are actually trying to talk to humans or have humans talk to other humans. Not to mention the fact that it takes a strange amount of discipline and courage to speak like a human for a brand or another person.  But when you do it – WHOA, watch out, because you can really stand out.

But here’s the rub:

People can sniff out inauthenticity. So “acting human” isn’t enough. The more technological we get, the more I realize the value is in the humanity. Want to stand out in the crowd? Try being a human, try giving a human response. Just try it.

So when Bradley Cooper talks about how Chris Kyle invaded his entire being, I get it. And I wish more marketers did.

When we do, we’ll all know because our social media feeds and the results for business will be remarkably improved.