Be authoritative

Find your voice

Every niche needs an authoritative voice — in your niche, is it yours?

March 15, 202213 min read

In any medium, creating content which seems authoritative requires we approach it with that intent. That doesn't mean being formal, technical, or wordy, (unless your audience expects it) merely that you speak with a voice that relates you to your niche.

An an authoritative voice isn't just being an expert. It's also about speaking in a way and saying things that your audience finds correct. They must agree with you, and so you must convince them. You'll do so, with your composition and your composure — so take time to develop your voice as part of your content.

💡 In this article, we'll look at how we can come across as authoritative based on what we say, and how we say it — to cater our content to project our niche expertise to our audience.

What you say

As creators, our content may be off the cuff or pre-scripted, in either case, in order to reach our niche effectively, it's important we choose our words and meaning wisely.

Choice of words communicates our perspective and establishes our relationship to our audience. This is diction, and as an expert you should be well versed and use niche terminology precisely. The right words can help get to the point quickly — if we assume our audience knows certain terms we can skip the definitions. On the other hand, we don't want to alienate newcomers to our audience with jargon. We’ll need to strike a balance between being relatable and being understood.

Then there is choice of content — the intent, substance, and structure of what we say. Do you offer unique insight? Are your offering facts with evidence or opinions qualified with personal perspective? Could your message conveyed be misinterpreted or misunderstood? To find your authoritative voice the meaning received of what you say is fundamental.

It merits a little expert attention: consider what you know, and what your audience knows (as well as what you don’t). Careful consideration for your expertise (and that of your audience) to inform what you say ensures you and your audience are on the same page — and that you’re speaking to them directly.

Speak with shared knowledge

Inside of any niche there is shared knowledge. This is the information that is unique to the niche that the members of your audience should already know (or will learn) as they approach the subject. Shared knowledge is something we should assume when speaking with expertise in our niche to avoid over explaining, or wasting time on exposition when we could better focus on getting to the point.

Create a glossary

A helpful exercise is to create a glossary: Identify common terms and phrases to your niche, and define them, in your own words. You could publish this to your website, however, the point isn't to offer definition to your audience. Instead clarify for yourself exactly what you mean when you use niche terminology and develop a selection of terms to draw from both in terms of content topics, and vocabulary. Make sure you do your research, as nothing will derail your authority like using a term incorrectly online.

Use jargon wisely

Sometimes shared language is referred to as jargon. Jargon often has a negative connotation, though it is merely a way of saying language specific to a niche. Jargon has the benefit of communicating more directly to your your niche while also as signally your affiliation jargon lets others know you’re in-group, and you get it.

However, when we create content for a niche it’s worth considering — are you inviting newcomers to your audience? Jargon can detract from your message making things seem overly complex. Jargon can marginalize as much as it creates connection. It's a balance, so use jargon wisely — use it to express not impress.

In some cases, your area of expertise may be more formal — jargon may be technical. In your niche there may be standards or conventions used for clarity and specificity. When in doubt and concerned about accuracy, certainly, default to technical terms. The more expert a niche, the more likely your audience will hone in on use of language. The key is to cater to your intended audience.

Say what you mean

A good filter for shared language is to consider niche term through the lens of denotations and connotations – denotations: the specific meaning of a term; and connotations: the abstract meaning or intent. Are you using terms in a way which might be misconstrued or mean something different given the niche? It’s easy to use terms casually without realizing that to a given audience those terms might be charged with meaning, or even triggering. Keep this in mind when putting together your glossary and content — be clear in your intent, and look for the right words that communicate that consistently and specifically.

Be relatable

While certainly precise use of language in our niche offers us a way to project authority, we don't want to be un-relatable. There is a counter-balance here, where casual language and the broader trends of the medium is also likely an important context. Are there certain broader cultural trends you or your audience might relate to? Presenting yourself as both an expert and a peer makes technical content more approachable.

A good way to delineate, is to use casual language when talking about any topic not related to your niche. Don't over intellectualize yourself. Avoid general wordiness, and stick to using terminology in the context of sharing knowledge in your niche. Otherwise, relax your language and talk like you’re talking to a friend when you’re talking about yourself, your life, and anything more broad or cultural.

Offer insight

We leverage shared knowledge to establish kinship with our audience. But, to offer them something of value you need to offer them something they don't already have. Novel ideas, diverse perspectives, new intersections in your expertise. Your unique insight is especially valuable.

So where do we find new ideas? As an expert you offer breadth and depth in your subject area. What’s at the outer limits of your knowledge? Be curious, go broad, go deep — there are always ideas on the fringe of what is mainstream, explored, or common knowledge in a given niche. Explore the frontier — find new or challenging ideas and bring them to the surface.

To offer unique insight, we also need to fall back on our unique perspective. Based on your experience, roles, or specialization what do these new ideas mean? Use your position to explain, to deconstruct, or to analyze the idea — offer your interpretation or summary of the idea to your audience. Don't just provide information — give an authoritative take from experience, to offer insight.

But the the key is to incorporate your unique viewpoint. Consider the intersectionality of your experience and how it may provide interesting takes on a new concept. Bring your unique takes to the table to offer unique insight.

Offer evidence

It's worth adding that when we offer new insights we risk being wrong. While we can't always be right (and should offer corrections when wrong), offering an authoritative voice we should do our best to be certain and offer evidence for why our insight is right.

Demonstrate you’ve done your research — back-up your arguments with authoritative sources. Quote experts, quote facts, use statistics. The more specific you are in your evidence the more likely it is individuals will find value in your insights and the less likely people will have ground to attack your perspective.

Of course not all perspective is academic. Your content might come from experience — you may be speaking as a Black person in America, as a parent, or as a woman. The key insight is that your experience is a type of evidence: it’s first hand. So feel free to **offer your experience as evidence but be sure to qualify your perspective (e.g., "from my experience as a...”) to avoid criticism, and always avoid speaking on the experience of others out of turn.

How you say it

The specific content of your content is foundational. That's our script, what we're going to say. In cultivating a brand, however, there is more to be had. People need to like you. You need to come off in a way they can engage. All the while to remain authoritative you need that expert voice

You syntax; style and tone all communicate something. Find a balance between expressing a relatable brand while and expert voice; between being formal enough in language to be taken seriously and speaking casually enough to welcome your audience's attention.

Speak plainly

When speaking to your expertise, Speak in plain language. To be taken seriously, you need to maintain a level of directness consistent with audience expectations. Don't be jarring or abrupt about it — simply speak with certainty.

Use the active voice

Writers use the active voice to make language more direct. Doing this is simple – be declarative and lead with action, for example say "create authoritative content" (instead of the more passive "creating authoritative content is something you might consider).

Active voice reads like an instruction, where we are certain of its outcome. This of course doesn't mean we shouldn't use the passive voice — sometimes we might want to communicate a lack of certainty, so use the passive voice when you're not certain. But when presenting insight with evidence, speak as affirmatively as you feel is justified to project authority.

Avoid unnecessary qualifiers

Qualifiers are words that specifically enhance (or compromise) the precision of other words. Unnecessary qualifiers are gratuitous unindented terms that sneak into our language often when our language is stressed or unprepared and bring our message into question. "It's possible that", "it may be", "sort of like", etc. — these unnecessary qualifiers, like the passive voice, may demonstrate to our audience a lack of certainty on the subject. As an expert, who has done the research speak affirmatively so your audience knows that you believe your insights are correct.

Address the audience

Who are you talking to? And how might you change your tone depending on who is listen? Across cultures people code switch — they change how they speak to each other to address each different groups in different ways. As a creator in a niche you’ll want to understand how to best address your audience (and across audience segment) to ensure your message connects.

Speaking to who?

In this article you'll note the frequent use of pronouns "you" and “we”. What am I trying to communicate? More important to consider is who I’m speaking to. I'm writing this to “you” as my peer and addressing “we” as creators.

Choice of pronouns establish our relationship to our audience. This makes a difference. There are times, we address the group to communicate experiences that are mutual. As a creator, I’m like you — we are creators and we should use pronouns smartly. Then there are times we should speak more directly. As an expert, I’m addressing you specifically — this is how you should address your audience. Note the difference.

Speak to each segment separately

It’s also good stick to singular nouns and verbs. Starting a sentence: "experts in this field, and you as creators..." speaks broadly, and so indirectly to any one person. Say instead, separately, "as a practitioner", and then later "as an organization" addressing both audiences individually — this ensures you don't mix messages, and it also allows you to offer different insight to different key segments of your audience. Is a given piece of content for everyone, newcomers, or experts like you? Know your segments, and address each separately and directly.

Show style

Much about how you say things is grammar, but what about style? Your niche has a culture. As a creator your content should reflect that while always representing yourself. Speak the way you do, naturally — don’t shy away from memes, slang, or cultural references. Know that your success in a niche depends on you reflecting the culture — but they key is to always be sincere. Don’t try to fake it, just embrace it — or be prepared to have your clout and authority questioned.

Style in writing can also merit guidelines. Often a style guide speaks to grammar, spelling, and word choice but can also include punctuation, and formatting. No matter your format try to keep a consistent style.

Show emotion

A lot of creators over do it — you don’t need to be a cartoon character to succeed. However, to be relatable, it’s best if you’re not a robot. How you express your message, in speaking or in writing should covey an appropriate energy. What’s appropriate? This depends on your niche. Cartoon character appeal to kids (and sometimes adults), If a calm delivery of information would be equally effective to a more in your face approach, don't over do it. Of course you may be motivated to get people excited. Say you’re looking to bring attention to a social issue or you have something difficult to say. In any case keep that energy consistent with the message. And when in doubt, just stick to you natural emotional — express how you feel for an authentic voice to your brand.


The recurrent theme for success as a creator the key is consistency. Publish with regularity, of course, but also think about what you’re saying and how you say it fits consistently with your vision and brand.

Give yourself a guide

Content will vary from one channel to the next. Is it a thread? A reaction video? Is this a hot take? Each platform has its culture and content that works. As a creator what you bring to the table is lived experience and personality. Stay true to yourself, but also, stay consistent — give yourself guidelines you can use to ensure that even when you're letting your personality shine you're also staying true to the intent of your content.

A style guide doesn’t need complicated. For grammar and spelling best practices there are plenty of style guides to choose from (I recommend Strunk and White’s). But when it comes to you and your niche you’ll also want to personalize your guide, make your own rules, define your terms to maintain consistency in voice.

Iterate in batches

This isn't to say you have to stick with the same voice forever, your content will evolve to meet the market. The key is to be intentional in that process — make a plan, create content in batches and maintain consistency in the batch – a season of episodes, or a series of threads — to see how an audience responds. Consistency in a set is a control for your content experiment, and feedback will offer you an input on what should change.

Set the standard

Consistent quality. Using a consistent voice set the standard. Consistency with your guide means you’re on brand and in niche. Episode for episode, article for article, people will only binge or subscribe if each piece of content feels aligned.

It’s also essential you ship without avoided obvious errors that might detract from your message. Maintain a high standard of quality. Spell check and correct grammatical errors, yes. But, It’s also hard to hear your voice when you’re too quiet. Watch your levels, keep video edits tight, and work on pacing. Take your time proofing, to hone your voice — do it right.

Also — wherever possible, get others in your niche to check your content. Awkward pacing or that weird thing you do with your hands is not always easy to spot — your content deserves an objective opinion. Be upfront about what you're going for, what your guidelines are, and what you hope comes through. Get honest feedback — does it address the audience? Is it insightful? Is it easy to understand?

Look around

Looking at your content — does it meet standards for quality in your niche? How does it stack against other creators you admire? As creator do the work to achieve quality consistent (or better) than what you see in the market. This is how you can compete — by projecting authority better than everybody else with consistency of brand and product.

Article by Sean Rioux