While newer writers fall more easily into telling rather than showing in their work, experienced writers don’t have immunity. Here are some ways to use active voice to keep readers.
How Much of Your Writing Employs the Active Voice?
You can identify passive voice by frequent occurrences of “is,” “was,” and other variants of passive verb forms. You’ll frequently find passive voice in technical and scientific writing. In this context, it has an association with objectivity, detachment, and lack of emotion.
This kind of writing doesn’t belong in a blog post or article on your web site that you’re using to establish a connection with your readers, especially if you want to attract clients.
If, for example, you work as a coach, you want your potential clients to recognize you as a caring person. When you use the active voice to describe how you feel about your work, you convey passion for your work and your clients.
Consider the sentence, “I am a caring person” or “My job is to help you.” I consider these empty statements. They don’t convey any emotion and have no active verbs. If you write, “I get deep satisfaction from helping my clients overcome difficulties that have prevented them from moving forward,” this demonstrates your caring actively.
You could also write, “I feel gratitude to my clients, who allowed me to share in their business-building journeys.”
While you will want to back up these statements with client testimonials, like the one below, the way you express how you feel about your work will encourage potential clients to want to know more about you. Always keep in mind that In any profession where you’re seeking clients, they want an idea of what it will be like working with you. Let them know who you are.
You can’t avoid passive voice entirely, but you can reduce its occurrences. Check the percentage of passive sentences in Word by clicking on the Editor icon on the top far right and then choosing Insights. You’ll find the information about passive language under Readability.
A good proportion of active voice and passive writing is 90% active, 10% active. The Microsoft Word Editor rates this blog post as having 0% passive sentences.
Use Description and Emotion to Attract the Reader to Your Business
“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” E. L Doctorow, author of several award-winning novels.
“You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying in the road.” Richard Price, award-winning author and screenwriter
Too often, people in the same line of business present the same lists of what they offer. A potential client shopping for a service finds little that makes one stand out from the others.
“I can help you make your business profitable.”
The writer will usually follow up with specific practices that will accomplish this, but if these don’t engage the potential client emotionally, the visitor will move on.
You can invite engagement by using emotional language.
- “Do you get so overwhelmed with bill paying that you miss deadlines and end up paying high interest rates and bank fees?”
- “Do you wish you knew how to have honest discussions with your employees about their work quality?”
- “Do you feel dread when you have to make cold calls?”
Experts call these questions addressing pain points. The potential client wants pain relief. Show that you understand this, that you know the rain is falling on their head, and they’re drowning in it.
Read What Others Write
Whatever your field of business, you can find websites and blogs on the subject. Visit the blogs that come up at the top of Google.
Pretend that you’re shopping for a consultant or coach in your field. Does the language draw you in; do they effectively use active voice? Do they successfully raise and address client pain points?
Keep a paper and pen handy or open a document. Make notes on what they do—not to copy it but to see how you can make their techniques your own.
Then practice. When you think you have something good, share it with a trusted colleague. Use their feedback when appropriate.
Have confidence in yourself. Your writing will improve, you will increase your use of active voice, and your business will profit.
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC is a consultant, speaker, author, editor and coach. She has written or edited over 60 of her own books and worked with a few dozen authors. Pat is an Amazon international #1 bestselling author. Coaches, consultants, and speakers hire Pat to help release the knowledge inside them so that they can attract their ideal clients.
She delights in assisting people to share their expertise by writing. Pat serves international and national experts as an editor, book coach, and a medical and business writer.