Your VoiceSix of us are unwinding after dinner in a friend’s living room. The kids, all 7 of them, are upstairs playing when several children erupt into crying and screaming. Immediately, one of the parents says, “It’s mine.” She knows the bravado of her two year old’s wailing and the pitch of her four-year old’s screech. She can discern their voice.

Hopefully, there is no wailing or screaming going on in your online course, but can your students discern your voice? Does it stand out among all the other voices vying for their attention. Author, Jeff Goins, asks the question, “What do you sound like to your readers?”

Are you motivating, positive, encouraging, fun, sarcastic, snarky, perturbed? What do you sound like to your students?

Your voice matters to your students.

First, your voice helps your online students know what to expect from you. For example, I’m profuse with emoticons, especially smileys 🙂 , because I don’t want my students to read a negative tone into my emails. After a while, they begin to expect a positive response from me, even when I’m having to be hard-nosed. Because of my voice, my students are likely to email me when they encounter problems. Before I sound like I’m just standing here tooting my horn, I have to admit that it wasn’t always like this. For a few years I had become terse in my email communication; I wrote it off as being “efficient.” In reality, I was shutting down student communication.

Second, your voice lets your online students get to know the authentic you. This is why we read certain authors. A hundred others authors may have written a book on the same subject, but we love how Anne Lamont, or George Saunders, or Mitch Albom says it. We love to see life through their eyes.

How can you develop your voice?
I’d recommend Jeff Goins post, 10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice, as a great place to start.