Choosing Between Narrative or Conversational Style for Your White Paper

September 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: White Paper Writing 

There are two ways to write a white paper which are identified as either a Narrative-style or a Conversational-style.

The vast majority of white papers today are written in a narrative-style, where information is provided similar to a story-teller or narrator. The facts pertaining to the topic are provided in a methodical order which is written from a third-party perspective. It’s plain, simple, and straightforward. Just the fact’s, maam.

The alternative to this approach is a conversational-style, which is becoming increasingly popular for business decision makers accustomed to reading business media such as news sites, articles, and online magazines. The conversational style inserts questions, affirmations, or thought-provoking statements that cause the reader to pause and think about what has been and will be presented. The style is similar to holding a conversation with a well-informed person.

An example of conversational style would be:

“If possible, such a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ combination would generate the highest level of productivity with the lowest possible cost.

Is this even possible? The answer is simply - yes.

Here’s how we arrived at this conclusion.”

A conversational-style softens the hard edge that is often part of many business or technical white papers, when a specific strategy or solution is recommended. The use of conversational-style makes a specific ‘call-to-action’ or solution recommendation easier to comprehend and accept for the business executive reader. It also breaks up the monotony when multiple paragraphs of detailed narrative information is presented.

Conversational-style is best suited for a generic business audience, but it doesn’t work for everyone. With a highly technical white paper that might be either be focused on a vertical market or where detailed product or industry knowledge is required, the inclusion of a conversational style can come across as overly simplistic, condescending, or unnecessarily rudimentary.

Given the fact that the vast majority of white papers are designed to deliver well researched, educational information, a conversational style might provide a better way to ensure that your white paper is read by your target business audiences, and generates a higher number leads or greater thought leadership within your market.

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