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When Sending Cards With Pre-printed Messages, Always Remember To…

Social Writing Tips

In the Clouds

Their goal?  To sell cards.

The greeting card companies pay their writers to create lovely, well-formated lines.  Pre-printed lines that sell cards.

But your friends, family members, and co-workers actually get more out of reading your writing.

Research published in the neuroscience journal Human Brain Mapping revealed a stronger connection with the reader’s motor cortex when viewing handwritten words.  This increased brain stimulation did not occur when viewers read pre-printed text.

When reading your handwritten words, your friends and family use their own learned writing habits to understand and read your writing.  This heightened brain activity helps create a deeper connection between you and the recipient of your handwritten note.  This occurs even though you are not physically present.

Neuroscience is also shining light on how reading translates into experiencing an event.  Researchers are discovering that reading stimulates parts of the brain that allow the reader to experience the event as if it were actually happening to them.

The brain does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life.

When you add your own words in cards, you help create the story.  The reader of your written thoughts will, in essence, experience them along with you.  Making them a part of their own experience.

You are united through a shared memory of the experience, just as if you both had experienced it together.

Handwritten words build deeper, more connected relationships.

Give them more than just a signature.

Keep reading and let’s experience together how to take a pre-printed message in a greeting card and turn it into a memory that you’ll both remember.

Show Your Personality To Deepen the Connection

When they “hear” your voice through your writing, the neural connection is made stronger.

Memories of you are used to create a new experience as they read.  As if you were there with them, in the room, speaking to them.

Your friends and co-workers will actually draw a picture of you in their mind as they read your written words.  You can create a more authentic visual picture of yourself when your writing reflects your own unique personality.

Here are a few tips from Emily Post’s book on etiquette to help bring out your unique personality as you write:

  • Write as you would speak.  Use words and phrases that you use in normal, everyday conversation.
  • Use contractions.  Normal conversation would likely say “I’m happy to see you” rather than “I am happy to see you”.
  • Insert the name of the person to whom you are writing.  “And, Mark, your contribution made such a difference!”.
  • Use punctuation to add interest and help express emotion.  Underline a word, use an exclamation point, quote phrases people actually say, or insert commas to break up longer sentences.
  • Don’t analyze, just write.  Writing without too much hesitation helps you use words and phrases more in line with how you speak.

One of my new favorites for adding a conversational tone, is to periodically use sentence fragments.  It may not be correct grammar.  But it’s how I often speak.  Try it.  It’s fun breaking the rules sometimes!

Next, what to do with that pre-printed message?

Restate The Message for Heightened Brain Activity

This is a writing trick that teachers use.

To help jump over writer’s block.  To get the writing process started.

Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious. – George Orwell.

Remember, the point is for the reader to “hear” your voice in their mind saying the words.  Rewriting part of the pre-printed message, in your own words, helps bring to life the initial visual image of you in the conversation.

The card already says “Happy Birthday”?  Write it again.

Put your own twist on it.

Help them hear you as well as see you.

Now that you’ve got the visual and auditory senses pulled from memory, it’s time to engage the mind in creating a new shared experience.

Tell the Story and Experience it Together

This is what they really wanted.

To know your thoughts.  The story behind the card.

Sometimes it’s obvious.  They like cats.  You picked a card with cats on it.  You messed up, so you picked a card that reads “I’m sorry” on the inside.

Restate it anyway, but don’t stop there.

The thought process, your thought process, helps them create the new memory.  Emotions help solidify memories.

  • Tell them why you picked this particular card.
  • Explain why this card makes you think of them.
  • Connect the picture with something unique and interesting about them.
  • Reveal how the pre-printed words help say what you couldn’t.

They’ll be be able to see you standing in the store.  They’ll create a more vivid picture of you in this new memory.

They’ll have a richer, more authentic connection with you.  The relationship will have a more personal experience to later recall.

Give It a Try

Use this as a formula.  Write it down for later.  Print this page.

Just follow the steps.

Build a stronger, more vivid memory on your next greeting card by extending the pre-printed message with your own handwritten story.

You’ll both remember it.


Flickr creative commons image courtesy of Atos.

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