UPDATED JULY 12, 2023
Writing with authority is a skill
The most successful businesses write with authority. They write like they mean it and they’re confident in their assertions. Copywriters can do this for you, too.
Writing with authority is something every business should be doing — or aspiring to do.
When you write with authority, people take notice and will be more likely to believe what you say. And when you’re confident in what you’re writing, your target audience will have confidence in you.
The opposite of writing with authority and confidence is being vague and non-committal.
But how do you spot that in your writing? And, more importantly, how do you weed it out and make your copy stronger?
Are your communications a tad woolly?
Is your copy and content somewhat fuzzy on the facts, a bit shaky on the specifics or not quite qualifying your explanations?
If so, it’s too vague and it isn’t doing its job.
What do I mean by vague communications?
Take a look at this paragraph:
According to research, quite a lot of people shop frequently. This is more or less the same as it was a few years ago. Nowadays more people tend to shop online, perhaps because it’s more convenient. Nevertheless, several high street stores are still reporting increased sales at prime times.
There’s not one tangible piece of information here. The copy is full of vague, meaningless waffle. It’s imprecise, indefinite and unclear — and that doesn’t inspire trust.
This may be an extreme example, but it’s the kind of thing I often see on my travels around the internet.
The problem with vague communications
Vague communications are difficult to pin down. Like trying to nail jelly to a wall or shovel sand with a sieve. Often they’re not definitive or conclusive and they leave your audience with more questions.
Ultimately, they don’t inspire confidence in your readers or help build your authority — and that is a problem.
So how do you overcome it?
How to write with authority and confidence
Work from hard cold facts
You can’t expect your audience to believe what you’re saying if you don’t believe it yourself. So when you’re writing, do your research and find hard evidence to back up your claims.
It’s impossible to be vague when you’re working with tangible, irrefutable facts and figures from credible sources.
When you’re referring to research findings, remember to say where they came from. State the source and include a link to it if you’re publishing online.
Write with specificity
Being specific in what you’re communicating means everyone should understand your message in the same way.
- Avoid making broad generalisations without evidence
- Specify what you mean and avoid vague words, like stuff, things and etc
- Include specific descriptions and details that help your audience to imagine and visualise what you’re talking about
- Use specific and relevant adjectives rather than words like nice, which could refer to anything
- Provide specific examples to illustrate the points you’re making.
Write with precision
Being precise means you cut the waffle, stick to the facts and stay on point.
- Cite quantifiable data that makes clear and conclusive points
- Use proper numbers and percentages rather than imprecise quantities, like plenty, a bit, a lot and a few
- Use simple language and straightforward sentence structures
- Be clear and succinct, making only one or two points in each sentence.
When you’re explicit, you clearly state your message with no ambiguity.
- Be direct and upfront — lay your cards on the table
- Make your message crystal clear with no room for misunderstanding
- Say exactly what you mean and don’t leave your audience with questions
- Express yourself plainly and openly with no implied or underlying message.
All the information you’re including should be relevant to your subject and support the points you’re making.
Stay on topic, don’t waste words on waffle and avoid going off on tangents or including too much extraneous and unnecessary detail.
Use the most current information
To be an authority, you need to be drawing from the latest research, facts and figures available.
Unless the information you’re using is historic and unchangeable:
- Look for research undertaken in the last year
- Dismiss anything that’s more than 3 years’ old
- Keep date-sensitive content current by updating it annually.
Be positive and definite
- Avoid filler words — like very, really, rather, quite, fairly, somewhat, relatively and slightly — your copy will sound much more authoritative and confident without them
- If you’re selling a scenario to a customer, rather than saying if you buy, say when you buy, which is much stronger
- Wherever possible, replace weak words, like could, may, might and should with will or do, which are positive and confident.
Note: It’s not always possible to use will or do, as we can’t always make that guarantee. For example, some outcomes are dependent on criteria beyond our control.
Do you need to sound more expert and authoritative?
If your copy doesn’t sound as confident or assertive as you would like it to, I can help.
I’m Jenny Lucas, a professional copywriter and content writer based in Leicestershire, UK.
My words have made a real difference to the businesses I’ve worked with — and they could do the same for you.
To find out more about how I can help, or to get in touch about a project, please visit my website.