How to Reach People Who Just Don't Read, Using "Letter to the Editor" Formats

 


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Some people just don’t read. Or at least they don’t read very much. And while physical letters to the editor get read, there are some people you just won’t reach using them. But for those who won’t read your letters, here’s a way of reaching these folks who are often more cued into learning by listening.

The way I’m talking about is using audio “letters" to editors. The way this works is that news and talk shows on radio often invite listeners to comment by calling in and recording on a voicemail box they’ve set up. The most prominent example of this is National Public Radio. These audio clips are usually played verbatim, and while you won’t have as much time to make your point than you would if you were writing a letter, you can make the point, and make it well.

I was going to suggest that you check out your speaking voice. And if you know your voice is just terrible, you might want to skip this idea. But on second thought, consider this. First, most of us are far harder on ourselves, and our “weaknesses" than others are. I have found people who have perfectly good singing voices, for example, who just imagine that they can’t sing. And secondly, consider that sometimes a perfect voice can be a liability.

Imagine that. What happens is that the man or woman with a perfectly silky speaking voice can actually fail to stand out with all of the other perfectly silky voices on the radio. You probably remember radio and TV commercials that feature a business owner hawking their products or services, and the reason you remember that particular business owner is because their voice is just so bad.

A local car dealer is like that. She has a lisp, not a terrible one, but noticeable. And probably any consultant would tell her to have someone else do the ads, that her speaking voice is just not “right" for on-air sound.

But the problem with our hypothetical consultant is that I remember this car dealer. And I remember her dealership. And I remember what she sells. Is it because of the “difference" in her voice? I don’t know. But I do remember her.

So I would encourage you to plow on, regardless of how “awful" you imagine your voice to be.

The rules for these audio clips is easy, and fairly straightforward.

First, write out what you’re going to say. While you can do it off-the-cuff, you will get far better results by writing it out. You do have a limited length of time (and this varies from program to program) but even programs that allow a longer time will tend to be more like to play a shorter segment. Writing out what you’re saying also allows you to ensure that your web site URL gets mentioned in the piece. This is crucial: you simply don’t have enough time to say much about what you do, and you must have a URL that listeners can check out later.

Secondly, no hard sell. This is even more important than with a physical letter. Make a tie-in with your work, mention the URL, and leave it at that.

Third, practice, practice, practice. Read through your piece several times. This allows you to catch mistakes before recording the piece. It also gets you more comfortable with what you’ve written.

Fourth, this is a setting in which a corded, landline phone can work wonders. A cell phone or cordless can occasionally have intrusive sounds which are not your fault, but will distract the listener. If you don’t have a corded phone, a cordless is still better than your cell phone.

And finally, make the call in a quiet place. A dog barking, a child crying, someone being paged: depending on where you’re calling from (a regular office or a home office) these sounds might intrude, and that’s not what you’re looking to project. Make sure where you are is quiet, and make sure that no one’s going to interrupt, and you’re set.

Jim Huffman, RN specializes in natural and alternative healing therapies. His first book is ‘Dare to Be Free: How to Get Control of Your Time, Your Life, and Your Nursing Career, ’ and is aimed at helping other nurses find satisfying, dynamic careers. His website is http://www.NetworkForNurses.com and his health blog is at http://www.shababa.blogspot.com

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