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  • Writer's pictureEllen Gardner

Our writing voice

One of the areas we worry about in our notes is tone. This is understandable because our readers can’t see our facial expressions or hear our voice.

But instead of imagining we’re speaking with the person, we frequently fall back on the ‘safe’ route in our tone, being cautious and impersonal rather than friendly and conversational. Our justification - “I don’t want to be seen as unprofessional.” That’s a mistake. Even at the highest levels, people are much more likely to pay attention to your message if it’s direct, personal and conversational.

Consider these two paragraphs:

“Last week, I was proud to announce my five point plan that builds on this progress by looking critically at where we can streamline and modernize processes at City Hall, and how we incentivize our homebuilding partners to increase our housing supply and drive affordability.”

Or this one…

“People don’t talk about end-of-life suffering or the cost of healthcare in the last year of life, so it never gets better. Instead, we pretend it isn’t an issue and the problem persists.”

The first is distant, cold and overloaded with jargon. The second is direct, clear and sincere. Which person are you more likely to follow? Next time you’re wondering about tone, imagine you’re speaking to a friend.



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