I had a revelation while watching the Kennedy Center Honors during the Christmas season. One thing that makes the Kennedy Honors unique is that celebrity friends of the honorees deliver the speeches—not the honorees themselves. I realized why we love celebrities so much. We can count on them to be them.
Martin Short delivered a stunning tribute to Tom Hanks. Short has a 20+ year personal relationship with Hanks. The tribute was a heart-felt personal remembrance from one friend to another, yet there was no doubt that it was delivered by Martin Short. You could identify him by his voice.
Celebrities have a distinct voice. Even if they are playing a role, they are playing it as only they can. They have spent years developing this voice as an unmistakable brand. You can become and influential writer with a recognizable style by spending time intentionally developing your writing voice. An influential writing voice had seven essential characteristics.
An Influential Voice Is . . .
In order to relate effectively with your readers you need to develop your voice. Remember, your readers are real person. As they read, they need to hear the voice of a real person. Your readers will respond to the influence of your writing if they hear your voice clearly. Your writing voice will begin to influence others as it becomes:
A clear, recognizable voice is consistent. It has a rhythm and beats to the surety to it. Your readers hear your voice and can settle into its cadence. Your writing voice can be quick and intense, slow and methodical, jovial, or intellectual. A consistent voice has a place of resolve. Just as a ballad resolves on the root note of its key, an influential voice finishes consistently on its own home ground. It is this resolution that helps others to recognize your voice. Think of Garrison Keillor.
Your voice delivers an understanding of who you are. Your voice must not sound off in order to impress. It must not quiver with the excitement of self-promotion. Your voice speaks what it knows from experience. It is this confidence that inspires your readers to trust you. They will listen to your voice because they trust it. Think of Bill Cosby (before his recent troubles).
Your voice carries a message that is uncompromising in its delivery. It says what needs to be said. Your readers can identify with your voice because it’s free from constraints. We all want to have the freedom to express ourselves. A courageous voice has an opinion. You can always speak what you know to be true. Think of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Your voice is pleasant and at ease when talking to others. People can relate to you. Your readers can connect to you through your voice. They can hear the sound of a person through your words. Your voice has a sense of humor and “likeability” that allows others to relate. You voice invites others to come alongside as a companion on the adventure your offer them through your writing. Think of Andy Rooney.
5) Reliable and reassuring
Your voice must not change, even though circumstances do. Your voice comes from the person that you truly are, yet for your voice to be distinctive, you must be who you truly are all of the time. Your readers know what to expect and, if you go in a different direction with your writing, your reader will not feel discouraged, disappointed, or offended by a bait and switch. Your voice conveys empathy. Think of Ronald Reagan.
6) Distinct and unique
Your voice is recognizable. It has an unmistakable quality to it that allows your readers to identify you as the writer. You might reference a personal experience. You might use personal phrases. There’s something about your voice that causes it to stand out and be heard above the others in a natural and pleasing way. Think of Ed Sullivan.
You have discerned your unique spiritual gifts. Your voice accurately reflects your spiritual gift mix. You rely on your gifts to communicate the message you have been given by the Holy Spirit. Your voice has a spirit of wisdom and revelation upon it because you have submitted your own voice to serve the voice of your Heavenly Father. Think of Jesus.
How do you develop and influential voice?
Listen carefully to the voices you are drawn to.
You will begin to carry the sound of the voices who have influenced you.
Listen to your own voice.
Write, a lot. This will allow you to begin to hear the aspects of your voice that you resonate with. Then you can intentionally develop these aspects.
Listen to the voices of those who are in your sphere of influence.
What are they saying? What is their general demeanor? What message can you bring into that situation that will provide solutions to the problems they are struggling with or hope into the situation that contains frustration or despair.
Listen to the Holy Spirit.
He will guide you into all truth. He lives within you. Your voice will sound a lot like Him. Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your voice? Does your voice reveal the spiritual gift mix you have been given?
You will be surprised and encouraged what you hear when you take the time to listen intentionally to your own writing voice. What was the first aspect of your writing voice that surprised you when you began to listen?