How to Define Your Voice as a Thought Leader

Elise Daniel
March 31, 2020

Creating great content is a journey, but if you haven’t traveled down this particular road before, it can be hard to know if you are headed in the right direction. That’s why I’m giving you a map, to help you reach a wider audience with better, more useful content.

So far in this content journey, I’ve described the first two landmarks:

  1. Create an in-depth audience persona
  2. Write an audience transformation statement

After you do these two things, you’ll want to take a turn and think about how you sound to your audience. Are you a motivating coach, a distinguished professor, or a relatable friend? How your audience perceives your voice will determine whether or not they’re interested in listening to you.

Define your tone in three adjectives.

Many people don’t take the time to carefully consider the tone they want to project in a particular piece of writing or content even though this is a basic communication skill we use to navigate social situations in real life. You wouldn’t make the same joke to your friend as you would your grandmother, would you?

You may think the way in which you speak to your audience is intuitive and will come naturally, but I’ve found that defining your tone in three adjectives will hold you accountable to a signature voice that remains consistent across different content mediums and resonates with your audience over and over again. 

To start, think about your audience persona and how you might talk to this person in real life. Are they looking for professional instruction from a teacher or a friend to walk alongside them and gently encourage them? Are they looking for someone to tell it like it is, with a humorous twist? Do they want to be motivated and inspired?

Then, think about who you are and consider your communication strengths. If you’re not sure, read over emails or letters you’ve written, think back to presentations you’ve given, or ask a friend or family member how they’d define your daily communication style. What adjectives would you assign to your voice? If you’re naturally witty or a natural encourager, keep these positive qualities in mind. 

Finally, ask yourself, where does your natural tone overlap with the tone your audience needs? Choose three adjectives you believe best meet this criterion.

Let’s circle back to the example of “Convenient Chloe” who I introduced previously. If you’ve defined Chloe as someone who values convenience and efficiency in her busy home, maybe you’ll decide that you want your tone to be “practical” rather than “academic.” You know Chloe so well, you know she responds better to an affirmation of her values and gentle encouragement rather than the blunt facts about how her purchasing decisions are harming the environment. 

As for you, you are a natural teacher, encourager, and activist. Though you love to tell it like it is when you’re talking about the environment with certain friends or family members, you know you have to soften your tone for Convenient Chloe. The three adjectives you’ve used to describe your tone are practical, affirming, and encouraging. 

Don’t overthink it!

These two exercises should take no more than ten to fifteen minutes each. Once you’ve described your audience persona, written your audience transformation statement, and decided on your tone, you’ll want to continue on to write your editorial mission statement. I’ll cover that in my next article. Stay tuned!

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Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash

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