How do you get it right?
- Be authentic.
- Be consistent.
Matt: How do you do it? Where do you start? Well, it’s important to be as authentic as you can. So when you write your tone of voice, you want to base it on your core values. So, we talk about the Simon Sinek Golden Circle thing – there’s probably going to be a link somewhere below all of this again, just to refresh you on that. But it’s important, if you get your ‘why’ statement established, that is pretty much going to underpin how you approach your core values and how you can get that authenticity into your tone of voice.
Chris: People should know what to expect when they come to your company. If you're writing one way and they come to your company and it’s a completely different culture that they see, then there’s something wrong there. You’ve got to really come from one viewpoint there.
Matt: Yeah, so I guess to give a real-world pretend example, you might be solicitors, you might be wanting to portray yourselves as who you are. You might be really fun and happy, and you wanna cut through some of that red tape, but because you’re a solicitor you believe you’ve got to be really staid and professional and conservative in your marketing. And then when people turn up, they might meet you and see that you’re really fun and interesting and different, and that clashes against how you’ve communicated. So if you carry that authenticity, there are no surprises when people meet you face-to-face, they understand who you are already, hopefully.
Chris: Yeah, and a lot of business communication is quite cold, a lot of websites are quite sterile, but if you can create some warmth into that, people aren’t shocked when they meet you, and they go, ‘Oh yeah, you are a real company, with real people inside it.’
Matt: Yeah, and be consistent as well. Don’t wander off down some other different type of communication – stick with what you’ve agreed and stick with those guidelines that you’ve put together. So creating a communication guide helps you be consistent in that respect. And we’ve got a few questions as well that we can throw out there, that will help you get to where you need to be – some questions to ask yourself to start your tone of voice. And we’re reading these totally from memory and not from a piece of paper that’s just down here. So, for instance, do you want to express a sense of humour?
Chris: Do you want to use formal or informal language?
Matt: Very good, no one can tell this can they. Do you want to be controversial or do you want to shock people?
Chris: Do you have a lot of technical information to communicate, and if so, what’s the best way of doing that?
Matt; Just put loads of jargon in. Jargon, jargon, jargon.
Chris: No more jargon.
Matt: Okay, sorry. Do you want to use jargon or avoid it?
Chris: Avoid it!
Chris: Do you want to appear friendly or authentic [sic.]?
Matt: Authoritative. You misread your own brain there. Do you want to be poetic or to the point? Do you want to be simple or complicated? [pause] I was gonna let you do the last one.
Chris: Oh, I thought you were gonna keep going. Do you want to follow strict grammatical rules or be more creative? Just remembered that one.
Matt: Yeah, from the top of your head.
Chris: I don’t know where that came from.
Matt: We’ll put these questions down here so you can actually read them rather than trying to interpret what we’re on about.
- Do you want to express a sense of humour?
- Do you want to use formal or informal language?
- Do you want to be controversial, or shock people?
- Do you have a lot of technical information to communicate? If so, what’s the best way to do so?
- Do you want to use jargon or avoid it?
- Do you want to appear friendly or authoritative?
- Do you want to be poetic or to-the-point?
- Do you want to be simple or complicated?
- Do you want to follow strict grammatical rules or be more creative?
Chris: But also, we’re gonna give you a communication guide that we’ve come up with for us, and which will help you come up with your own.
Matt: So we hope that’s been enlightening for you, and has brought you lots of value, and will make your company a happier and more successful place.