Tone of Voice
If we’re hoping that employees will become brand ambassadors, if we want them to feel personally invested in the company’s vision and its success, then we need to engage them person to person, rather than corporate entity to anonymous employee. Tone of voice is a powerful tool for connecting with employees — or holding them at a distance.
Here are five things you might want to avoid in your tone of voice:
Talking down to employees
The writing in a lot of well-intentioned internal communications comes off as unnecessarily patronizing. Or worse, like a schoolteacher instructing unruly students. When the tone of voice speaks to employees as peers instead of subordinates, it levels the playing field and shows respect for the people who make up your workforce.
Too much corporate-speak
Would you use the word “synergize” in conversation with a friend? As much as possible, let your internal corporate voice reflect the way real people talk to each other, without excess corporate jargon. When your tone of voice leans too heavily on business buzzwords or corporate-speak, it can make employees question what you’re really trying to say.
A cultural disconnect
Sometimes there’s a disconnect between the company culture and the internal communications voice. If your culture is all about being agile, your tone of voice might use shorter, punchier sentences rather than long, rambling paragraphs. Or, if your culture is focused on safety and reliability, you probably don’t want your tone of voice to be too slapdash or witty.
Talking at people instead of with them
The goal is for internal communications to be an ongoing conversation, not a one-way flow of company information being spewed at employees. Tone of voice can help by being more conversational and starting with the expectation that employees will have a voice as well. Two-way channels also give employees a way to join the conversation.
Believing that conversational means unprofessional
Writing conversationally doesn’t mean that anything goes. Conventions like punctuation, spelling and grammar remain important, even when using a casual tone of voice. Confusing “you’re” and “your,” for instance, isn’t conversational; it’s amateurish. If your writing is studded with grammatical or spelling mistakes, employees will notice. And not in a good way.