The One and Only Reason to Write in Third Person (But It’s a Big One!)
When is it best to write in third-person point of view?
Some professional writers and business bloggers might say always. In which case, I’d like to point them to two previous posts:
When to write in First Person: The Professional Writers’ Guide
When to Write Business Copy in Second-Person Point of View.
But again, those are our previous posts. Today’s topic is clearly different, all about when writing in third person is going to be your strongest bet. And more specifically, when is it best to write in third-person point of view if you’re selling something – whether physical product, subscription or idea.
According to many online sources, you want to write in third-person point of view in three sets of circumstances:
When you want to sound objective
When you want to sound professional
When you want to sound credible.
However, when it comes to writing, those all pretty much mean the same thing.
Third-person point of view just automatically sounds more academic. That’s why it’s the preferred and even mandatory style in most college and higher education assignments.
When applied by professional writers and business bloggers, third-person point of view dials down the emotion. And amps up the logic.
It’s no longer a conversation or debate. It’s just a set of facts.
At least that’s the impression readers receive, hence the reason it can work so well in certain writing situations. Let’s say, for example, you’re writing about stock market investments. Facebook, specifically, and how poorly it’s doing these days.
As with any other topic, you could handle it from three different points of view:
Third Person – From July 25 to August 21, Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) has plummeted a total of 44.88 points. That’s brutal, and there’s no telling how much further it will fall. While investors who still think CEO Mark Zuckerberg can turn this dismal picture around aren’t entirely baseless, the company’s short-term prospects remain worrisome, to say the least.
Second Person – From July 25 to August 21, you’ve probably watched Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) plummet a total of 44.88 points. That’s brutal, and – let’s face it – there’s no telling how much further it will fall. If you’re an investor who still thinks CEO Mark Zuckerberg can turn this dismal picture around, you’re not entirely off-base. But the company’s short-term prospects remain worrisome, to say the least.
First Person – From July 25 to August 21, I’ve watched Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) plummet a total of 44.88 points. That’s brutal, and there’s no telling how much further I’ll have to watch it fall. While I still think CEO Mark Zuckerberg can turn this dismal picture around – with some reason – the company’s short-term prospects are worrisome, to say the least.
Depending on the publication and writer, the first-person point of view in this situation might actually be fine. It just depends on whether the writer has an established rapport with his audience.
If he doesn't, then readers can too quickly find themselves asking, why they should care about his opinion.
The second-person passage, meanwhile, can come across as presumptuous. If someone does own Facebook and believes it’s going to shoot back up in the next three months, she isn’t going to be very impressed with the finger-pointing.
And if she has no personal interest in the stock, then the “you” in question runs the risk of sounding irrelevant to her.
Not so with the third-person point of view. It simply states facts, figures and, yes, opinions too... but in such a way that it's easy to take as truth.
So in this kind of situation – particularly for professional writers or business bloggers just starting out – third-person point of view is the way to go.