Ever heard of NLP?
NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming.
Neuro as in the brain, linguistic as in language, and programming as in computers. In a nutshell, it’s using the power of words to re-program the brain and change behaviour. Not a million miles away from copywriting when you think about it.
I've always been fascinated by the power of language to influence and persuade. So many years ago I trained as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and then as an NLP Practitioner and it’s been the bedrock of my business ever since.
One of the most useful skills health writers can learn from NLP is how to enhance written rapport to increase reader engagement. To do that, you need to capture your reader's attention right from the start. That means using language patterns that suits the other person’s preferred communication style, whether their perception of the world around them is primarily visual, auditory or kinaesthetic / feeling.
Why is this important?
Because the words that have the greatest impact and convey the most meaning are those most closely aligned to the readers own preferred representational system.
We all have one sensory modality that we give preference to over the others and it's useful to know what this is so you don't let that bias creep into your writing.
Consider the examples below and see if you can recognise your own language preferences.
Visual language patterns.
Do you see what I mean? How does that look to you?
I get the picture. That appears to be OK.
Auditory language patterns.
That sounds good to me. Do you hear what I’m saying?
Tell me again. Listen, I’ve got an idea.
Kinaesthetic or feeling language patterns.
I need to get a better grasp of what you’re saying. That feels OK to me.
You need to get a grip of the situation. Let go and move on.
Can you recognise your own sensory preferences from these examples?
Even just listening to yourself speaking out loud for a while should give you a clue as to whether you are primarily visual, auditory, or feeling in your perception of the world around you.
Speaking your reader's language.
As a writer, having an awareness of representational systems is important because it reminds you to cover all sensory modalities in your writing. The temptation is to write, as you speak, using your preferred sensory words to communicate your message. And because they are your words, you probably won’t even be aware if you are being biased.
But you need to appeal to all of your readers. Not just the ones who share your own language patterns.
Now that you know how to spot those visual, auditory and feeling words, have a look back through your latest blog posts, articles or information leaflets and make sure you use them all to make the greatest impact on your readers.
Whenever you are writing for your patients and customers, it’s important to choose words that will engage them strongly and deeply. Words that will paint a picture for them, strike a chord, or perhaps even touch their hearts.
If you have an interest in medical copywriting, you’ll already know that it's good practice to use sensory language throughout your copy but having some background knowledge of NLP can make your writing even more effective.
It's one of those little details that can help your business stand out amongst the competition.
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Hi, I'm Anne, welcome to the Copy and Ink blog.