7 Simple Ways To Write for the Ear

Nearly everyone who makes a Stubborn Old Gardeners video will work from a written script. This means what you say will be written down beforehand. You usually won’t have to worry about this, because we’ll tend to the writing part, but it’s probably helpful to know how we’re approaching it. When you teach in a video, you want it to be easy for your audience to understand as the watch. So your script will need to be written in a form that makes it easy to hear rather than read. Most of us aren’t used to doing that.

We don’t write the way we talk. Imagine telling your best buddy how to do something. That’s the way you want to write.

As you write down the key points you want to make in your video, keep in mind these seven basic tips:

  1. Use short sentences and keep it simple. Avoid compound or complex sentences. Avoid parenthetical statements and anything else that might confuse or distract your listener. And don’t use a long word when a short one will do. Those big words may sound impressive, but a shorter word will get the point across better. Every time.
  2.  Don’t be afraid to tackle complicated subject matter. Just find a simple way to express it. Your audience will appreciate the extra time you take.
  3. Focus on how you start and how you stop. Research tells us your audience will remember your first statement and your last more than anything else you say.
  4. Don’t be afraid of contractions. Your high school English teacher may have marked off for them, but your listener’s ear will be saying “thanks.” And get this. It’s even okay to use colloquialisms like “I’m gonna.” They offend the eye, but they sound just fine to the ear.
  5. It’s okay to use “I,” “my,” “you,” and “yours” instead of talking in the third person. It’s actually better, because it sounds more conversational.
  6. Use the active voice, and be specific. Compare “It’s important that the soil be properly prepared before the tree is planted” with “Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Add some topsoil and water it well. Now you’re ready to plant.”
  7. We saved the best one for last. When you’re done, read it out loud. Then record it on your smartphone or other recorder and listen to it. Then make it simpler. Repeat. There’s just no substitute for listening to what you say when you’re trying to make it work for the ear. Your eye will fool you every time.
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