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TONE OF VOICE: IS YOURS HUMAN OR FAKE?

by | Sep 17, 2019

For internal communications, steer clear of corporate speak

Even the most brilliant messaging can fail to connect with employees when the tone of voice doesn’t ring true. Think of the importance the marketing team gives to how the brand voice communicates with customers. The most effective tone of voice in internal communications comes from giving it that same level of consideration.

One of the first things to consider is that external brand voice. The internal brand should express that same personality. For instance, if your brand is all about the creative expression of skateboarding, you don’t want your internal communications to sound like some stockbroker is doing the talking.

Regardless of the brand personality, try to land on a tone of voice that speaks to employees peer-to-peer. Talking down to employees, or writing that feels a little like a kindergarten teacher admonishing a bunch of unruly kids, is not going to be as effective as speaking to employees the way you would talk with a friend or neighbor. Strive for a tone of voice that’s authentic and human.

One clue that your internal brand might be talking down to employees is the frequent use of verbs like “must” or “should.” Rather than telling them what to do, focus on informing and inspiring. Think about the way you’d explain the topic, whether it’s open enrollment or a factory closing, to the person sitting at the next desk. At their best, internal communications are a human conversation, not a press release or an instruction manual.

For more on what not to do when writing for internal communications, you might like Tribe’s Best Practices paper on this topic.

(Note: I’m using the phrase tone of voice as sort of a loose catchall. For the difference between voice and tone, try this Forbes council piece: Voice and Tone: What’s the Difference?)

Interested in making your internal communications more authentic? Tribe can help.

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