Tone of Voice – the importance of choosing the right writing style

Do people comment on your “telephone voice”?
Did your mum ever tell you “not to take that tone with me”?

We naturally change the way we speak depending on the situation and, let’s be honest, depending what we want to get from them and how we think we can best get it. Just listen to a five-year-old girl trying to charm a chocolate bar out of her dad in the checkout queue and you’re watching an expert in action.

So why do SO MANY people ignore this when they sit down to write?

At school I was taught grammar rules, drilled in writing formal template letters and told the importance of making a good impression. And that’s true to an extent (my teacher would have a fit if she could see me starting a sentence with ‘And’).

A formal tone has its place when you’re writing for a formal setting. But so much we write these days has a less formal audience, and the rules are shifting.

Email and the internet have changed things. We communicate in writing more than ever before, over email, by text and on social media, and a combination of keyboard laziness and a drive to express ourselves has relaxed writing conventions.

Picking your tone, then, is crucial in business. Do you want to impress with your knowledge, intimidate with your formal tone, bamboozle with technicalities and legal speak? Do you want to come across as friendly? Dazzle with your enthusiasm and spark for what you do? Gently persuade someone to buy your service? I could go on…

The ART is in recognising why you’re writing, working out the best approach and then adopting a style that fits. Adapting your style to fit, if you like. These days you need a multitude of writing styles up your sleeve so you can pull out the right one at the right time for the right client.

 

Originally posted on 2/4/17 on my previous website.

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