“So what’s the best trick for making copy work well?” she asked. I didn’t hesitate for a second, because the answer was obvious.

Effective copy is conversational. No matter whether you’re writing a web page, a white paper, a print ad, an email, or a letter, copy that’s conversational will invariably do a better job of connecting with the reader and convincing him (or her) to do or think whatever it is you want.

That’s a tough sell to people who base their knowledge about writing on what they learned in English and Composition classes, where they were schooled in the stodgy style of the academic world. Fortunately, the academic world is the only place where that style is dominant.

Why is conversational copy so much more effective? It’s simple. When we read, we “hear” the words in our brain. And how we hear it is influenced by the style in which it’s written. If the copy is in a conversational style, that’s what we hear: warm, friendly conversation.

Conversational copy draws readers in and makes them more comfortable. It also makes them more receptive to the purpose of the copy, whether that’s to prefer your company’s widgets or vote for your favorite candidate.

Of course, we don’t converse with everyone in the same way. If you’re talking with a professional engineer, your tone is likely to be very different from what you’d use with a teenaged sports fan. So you need to adjust the tone of your conversation … and your copy … accordingly.