Switching formats

You might notice that this post is in a slightly different format to usual. This is intentional, and what I’d like to do today is to talk you through something that I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks in the hope that it might be useful for somebody else as well.

I’m going through a process at the moment where I’m redoing all of the copy for this site (yes, it’s redesign time), which is not something that typically comes very easily to me. I usually find it quite difficult to get the thoughts that I have in my head down in written form. When faced with a blank piece of paper I’m often too focused on precise wording and weighting of phrases, getting too hung up on these rather than the overall message.

I was having a conversation with a colleague on a similar subject lately, where he was putting a proposal together but slightly struggling to get the message across in the right way. At the time I suggested that he think about how he’d approach this if he was doing it as part of his work. With interviews that we do on projects we very often record these (either just with audio or video) so as to facilitate a much more natural and fluid conversation, so that we’re not focusing instead on capturing exactly what was said and how. It also really helps when you’re trying to refer back to specific key phrases. I suggested to my colleague that he maybe tried something similar: writing down key questions that need to be answered, asking himself them (or finding someone else to be the interviewer), and recording the conversation so that he could talk about everything in a way that felt much more natural. From there he could pull out the key phrases and messages.

I’ve been trying this recently and have found it to be incredibly helpful. I put together the above video as a starting point and have written this from it. As you’ll hear if you’re listening along, it’s not a verbatim transcription, but it’s not meant to be. Listening back means that you can grab the things that you expressed really well, but improve other bits that don’t come across as well when written.

The next time you’re struggling with writing something, maybe give this a go. In advance, write down the topics that you’d like to talk about as a list of bullet points. Fire up your software – I’ve used a Mac and QuickTime Player to record this (Open QuickTime Player, and from the top menu select File > New Movie Recording). Answer your questions as you would if you were talking about the subject to someone else. Try not to worry about it looking or sounding like a professional recording, or saying the wrong thing. Let the camera carry on and force yourself not to stop and re-record.

Posted by Sally Jenkinson

Sally is a the lead consultant and founder of Records Sound the Same, helping people with digital transformation. She's also a speaker, coder, gamer, author, and jasmine tea fiend.