One of the bits of editing advice I give to my clients is this:
Always read your writing out loud before you share it.
This works because you can:
- listen out for any grammar or syntax errors
- check to see if your sentences are too long (you’ll run out of breath if they are)
- make sure it sounds like you and not like you’ve swallowed The 1952 Guide To Frightfully Proper Business Writing (‘I trust this email finds you well’)
But recently I’ve also been recommending a couple of new tools which read your writing aloud for you.
They’re great because they help you get inside your reader’s head and hear your writing from their point of view:
Does it sound the way you intended it?
Does it have pace and spark?
Or is your point unclear, your meaning easily misunderstood or your paragraph as dry as a Ryvita?
If this sounds useful, take a look at:
1) The Read Aloud function on Word, available with the most recent versions of Word. If you can’t see it in your toolbar, you might need to upgrade. (Thanks to copywriter supremo Sarah Townsend for this tip.
2) A free app called Speechify, which allows you to choose any writing at all to be read out loud – websites, pdfs, books, emails etc.
You either use the browser plug-in or you can upload pictures of the writing. You can choose the reader’s voice – I’ve gone for generic ‘British Sarah’, but you can even select Gwyneth Paltrow if you’re a fan (personally I couldn’t think of anything worse. She’ll probably try and flog you a $500 healing crystal in between paragraphs.)
Hope these help.