If you’ve ever watched a toddler getting to grips with interlocking bricks, you’ll understand the difference between something hitting home or connecting and something utterly not hitting the spot. The child will push one block onto another, often with some force. If the inter-connecting studs and shafts are not lined up, the blocks don’t stick together. Not just that, they often fall apart, back into two separate pieces. Finding the space where the pieces inter-lock often happens more by luck than judgment. When a toddler first makes two bricks ‘lock’ together, there is a look of mystified joy. Unsure how it happened, the child nonetheless, sees two blocks become one right before her eyes.
That connection happens when the pieces line up. Writing for a business blog is also about connection. Connecting the essence of your post to a corresponding feeling in the reader. That feeling might be curiosity, aspiration or need. One of the tools we have as writers to help that message connect, is so called ‘tone of voice’.
What is tone of voice?
In speaking, tone refers to the modulation of the voice which conveys different emotion. So a stern tone would be used when issuing warnings, a reassuring tone when trying to calm a panicky crowd, you get the idea.
In writing, we don’t have the benefit of audio so we rely on choosing words, phrases and sentence construction to convey different feelings or emotions. Before we can do this, we need to consider what ‘tone of voice’ we want to use.
You may not have thought about this before. Yet in every day life, you naturally and easily adapt your tone of voice depending on the situation and the audience and crucially what you want to achieve.
Take for example the tone of voice we use when talking to a cat. Usually we want to express our love and appreciation for the cat so we use a warm, caressing tone. Compare that with the tone we might use if pulled over for speeding by a police officer. Not wanting a ticket, we will use a deferential, polite tone (usually), hoping to flatter the policeman’s ego, appeal to her better nature and avoid attracting a harsh penalty.
In the same way, reflecting on what feeling you want to convey can help you refine your ‘tone of voice’. This list gives you an idea of different ‘tones’ you can give your writing:-
- Safe pair of hands
- Person next door
As you can see from the list, the tone of voice also injects some personality into your blog. What kind of personality you aim for will depend on what kind of content you offer.
At heart your business blog aims to bring traffic to your sales pages and ultimately bring opportunities and sales into your business. Generally a business blog aspires to build relationships with prospects and customers by becoming a trusted resource for one or more of the following:-
- Insider news
- Behind the scenes
Consider what tone of voice suits each type of content
For example if you pick up a newspaper or listen to news bulletins you’ll notice the tone used is confident and authoritative. This is achieved by a pared down style where every word contributes to conveying the details of the story. News stories don’t encourage reflection in the listener/reader. They are all about ‘who, what, where, when and how’. Reflection can come later. The sentences are crisp and brisk demanding that you pay attention and listen carefully. Think of the war time families gathered around the radio listening avidly to news bulletins.
Isn’t it rather contrived to ‘create’ a tone of voice?
Your writing will have a tone of voice whether you consciously ‘create’ one or not. If you understand the impact tone of voice has then you get to play and have fun exploring different approaches to writing your blog. Adopting a tone of voice and even a persona for your blog can turn blog writing from a chore to a joy. There’s no need to worry about adopting an inauthentic tone of voice.
If you can’t, pull off the stern school mistress tone, then it won’t ever get off the drawing board. However giving yourself permission to let go of a so-called business-like tone will allow more freedom and self-expression. What emerges may surprise you.
Just as the toddler discovers the joy of connection when the building blocks stick together, you too can add more fun to your writing (and more engagement for your reader) when you find a tone of voice that connects you, your message and your audience.
Tone of voice is only one of several devices you can use to convey a particular feeling to your writing. If you’d like help with writing skills please contact me.