We all write with a specific “voice” and “style,” representing our perspective on the information we are presenting. On this site, I’m a teacher, sharing with you lessons to help you blog, use WordPress, and publishing on the web. You may share your expertise or your experiences with others on your site with others as a teacher, leading your students along the path.
Contrast that with what I call the lecture style, a style of writing and perspective that lets the reader know you are the expert and it is your way or highway. Those who lecture rather than teach would call the difference a game of semantics. As with everything, it is, but it is a comparison that needs to be explored.
The difference between teach and lecture is a fine one when it comes to web publishing.
A fellow college professor I know lets the students lead the class. He presents material and encourages the students to debate the answers, find alternatives, and come to their own conclusions, guided by the teacher. The student’s evaluation is measured by participation, interaction, and determination to learn and process the information.
Another college professor stands in front of the class and presents the material for two hours and goes home. He will give the students five minutes at the end of class to ask questions and get help, then he’s gone. His job is to tell the students how to think, what to think, and the answers to the questions. What the students do with this information happens outside of class and is measured through tests.
The first is a teacher, the second an example of a lecturer. Let me give you another example outside of academia.
Two lawyers blogs. The first shares lessons learned, comments on court cases, laws, and policies, teaching his readers but also offering commentary and welcoming social interchange. The second offers only legal advice in bits and pieces, rarely offering opinion just legal references. Comments are turned off and interactivity is not welcome nor encouraged. The first lawyer is a teacher, the second is a lecturer.
Does that help you understand the fine line between the two?
These are just my names for these two styles. You may have your own names. It is about styles, about the persona and character behind your site, the style of voice you use when you present your material.
There is nothing wrong with either. This is not a debate about which is better or right. Both are needed, in fact necessary. People learn best from different types of instruction. For those who need just the information presented with authority, self-learners, they like the lecture style. Those who need a more social and interactive learning space, eager to learn as part of a team, they need the teacher style.
Your blog exercise today is to explore your own style when you educate your readers. Are you the teacher or the lecturer?
Examine the tone of voice and presentation styles of your published content. While writing it, did you think about how the content could promote conversation or just deliver information?
You don’t have to choose one style and stick with it. Consistency helps connect with your readers, however, like parents, sometimes you have to be the teacher and others times you have to be the lecturer. Depends upon the context of the content. The point is to be aware of the difference and keep the tone consistent within the same article, if not the whole site.
Working with a client, I pointed out that their presentation voice was that of a lecturer, leaving no room for the reader to have their say. She was stunned and immediately changed her style as her personality was all about sharing and interactivity. Her lack of familiarity and comfort blogging made her voice sound more controlling, thus more of a lecture style. Another client wanted to be the authority voice. She had to learn how to stop writing as a teacher and become the lecturer, the strong authoritative voice on her subject rather than the friendly mom down the street chatting with her readers.
There is no right or wrong. It is your choice. Study which voice you use. Does it match with your blog purpose and intent?
If you want to write about this, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.