As human beings, we are extremely sensitive to tone of voice. In conversation, we can pick up on the tiniest ‘clues’ to interpret what someone is really saying, simply by the way they say it.
The same is true for communications and PR professionals, who set a certain tone based on the words we choose. These words create an impression, good or bad, on the people who read them or hear them. In order to make a good impression, it makes sense that we choose our words carefully in everything we do.
This doesn’t just apply to copywriters or written communication like blogs or social posts. Every person in every organisation is responsible for creating tone of voice in emails, tweets, Zoom calls, even phone calls. When we go to work, we’re constantly sending out signals – so how do we make sure they’re the right signals?
Every organisation has a defined set of brand values such as honesty, integrity, empathy, understanding, passion, diversity, and so on. These values help to articulate the tone of voice that organisation is trying to achieve when communicating with its stakeholders.
By keeping your brand values in mind when you represent your organisation, you’re off to a good start. Even when you’re dealing with multiple audiences across different channels and platforms of communications, your values can really help to guide and shape you in getting your tone right.
What does that look like in practice?
It’s not an absolutely proscriptive set of rules, but a general set of guidelines that can help you to write, or speak, in a way that ensures your tone is on the right track. Here are our 10 tips on tone of voice:
- No hiding: Write the way you speak and don’t ‘hide’ anything behind very formal or complicated language
- No jargon: Industry jargon is the enemy of understanding; in fact it often makes it seem as though you are trying to not communicate something
- Be direct: Make your words catch the eye, always say ‘we’ rather than the ‘the company’ in the third person
- Grab the reader: Show your passion by aiming for a bold, arresting headline and opening sentence
- Tailor your words: Before you write that opening sentence, take time to think about who you’re writing for – and what they need from you
- Think thesaurus: Don’t settle for any old word – go to the thesaurus and find the one that fits
- Be yourself: Have the confidence and the flexibility to let your personality shine through the words
- Aim to improve: Never, ever settle for draft one – there’s always something you can change for the better
- Listen up: Speak your words out loud, do they sound right? Do they say what you really mean? Will they engage your audience?
- Simplify: Make it easy for your target audience to read by using clear, simple words
We hope those 10 tips can come in handy for you. Remember, the words we use say so much about who we are and what we stand for, so remember those brand values and make sure your words are the right ones!
Need some help with content or copywriting?
Here at Cullen Communications, content development is one of our core services and we can help you get your tone and message right, no matter who the audience. Get in touch today for a free consultation.
About the author
Dawn Burke is a Client Director with Cullen Communications, specialising in B2B, consumer, mobility, technology, travel, environment, and helping SMEs to grow their brand.