The Authentic Voice
In marketing and PR everyone is talking about having an authentic voice, creating authentic content, being authentic. Sounds great – it should be natural, right?
The idea of coming up with your “authentic voice” seems ironic. If it were authentic, you wouldn’t have to think about it. But as businesses and individuals, we’re always filtering how we present ourselves.
For me, it comes down to two things: passion and vulnerability. If I feel those when I’m speaking, I’m being honest, and that feels authentic. If I feel those when I’m listening, I connect at a deeper, more human level.
Communicate as a Human
People relate to people. They’ll listen to a real person talking honestly far more than to a brand or a sales pitch. Passion and vulnerability are the subtle signs that the voice I am listening to is real – they are just like me.
As communicators we have to find the passion in our message. Something in the message that we genuinely care about. There’s almost always something you can get excited about if you look hard enough.
When you feel the passion in what you are saying, then you are well on the way to being authentic, and engaging. So look out for it – do you care about what you are saying in your content? If not, something’s wrong.
Don’t hide your weaknesses. Be honest about them and you will create much more engaging, powerful and authentic content that people will want to engage with. People will relate to you or your brand because you are vulnerable just like them. It will make your communication feel inclusive and it will make you seem approachable.
This is as true for an individual or small company like mine, as it is for the multinational brands for whom I work.
Case Study of Passionate, Vulnerable Video Content
8 years ago I won a commission to write, produce and direct educational videos for Jewish Women’s Aid. The short drama scenes were to be used in school lessons on bullying and relationships.
Last week they got in touch again. They told me that the video that continues to have the biggest impact is also the one that for me is the most authentic. Childhood Games.
David really wants to be friends with the cool kids in his school. They see his desire as a weakness and manipulate him. David puts up with it, because he hopes eventually to be accepted.
It’s a simple story. Its power is in its authenticity: I was that child.
I was bullied in exactly that way, and through admitting it and embracing that vulnerability, I was able to create a passionate, authentic feeling piece of content that is making an impact on lives.
Bullying is an emotive subject and it might seem easy to point to the passion and vulnerability here. While sometimes more subtle, those qualities can and should be present in any communications that you want your audience to really connect with and relate to.
What is Passion?
I adore film making. I love the challenge of finding the most engaging way to communicate something. I love bringing together great teams, writing intelligent scripts, delivering polished films. I’m get excited by helping my clients work creatively. All of these passions come through in my work.
But it’s not enough. There is more than just being passionate in your craft. There is more even than being passionate in your message. There is being passionate in how you communicate.
And that comes from both your passion for your message and from your honesty and vulnerability.
Who Creates Passionate, Vulnerable, Authentic Content?
If you want to produce authentic content you need to find the creatives who are more than merely professional. You need to find the filmmakers, writers, directors and creators who are passionate about their craft, passionate about your message and passionate about your product.
Even harder, you need to find the creatives brave enough to show their vulnerability. Your audience relates best to passionate, vulnerable, human communications. Your communicators needs to be passionate, vulnerable and human too. That’s authentic.
You can watch the rest of the Jewish Women’s Aid videos here. They were shot with my regular collaborator, Emmy award winning director of photography, Franklin Dow.