You know what tone is when you see it. It’s the thing that makes you hear a certain voice in your head when you read something. It’s the thing that makes you feel excitement while reading a piece of writing about what you had previously thought was a boring subject. It’s that extra something that separates good writing from exceptional writing. It’s what made you aware of the fact that you’re about to read something informational yet casual, even though you’re only on the fourth sentence.
So you know what tone is. But do you know how it works? Do you know what goes into establishing a tone that reaches readers and communicates what you’re really trying to say? And how can you harness it to make your business’s writing even better? Below is what you need to know about tone to be able to use it to your advantage.
Use tone to establish an attitude and personality. Imagine that everyone reading your piece of writing is blindfolded and your piece of writing is being read aloud to them. What does the voice reading it sound like? What does the person reading it look like? Who are they? What is their personality like? The specific words you choose to use in your writing establish an image in the reader’s mind of who the voice behind it is, which translates to their image of your business and what it stands for. The most important thing tone communicates, though, is the attitude of the speaker towards the reader. Ask yourself: do we want to seem welcoming to our readers? Authoritative? Exclusive? Whatever attitude your business takes towards your reader will ultimately determine what your relationship is like, for better or worse.
Tone is a way to connect to readers’ emotions. When trying to convince someone to do something (such as buying your product or service), logical arguments will only get you so far; emotional appeals are much more convincing. Tone is a way of reaching readers’ emotions—given what we said above about tone being a way to inject personality into writing, tone is essentially a way of humanizing a piece of writing. Use adjectives that conjure emotions. Create vivid images that evoke memories. Incorporate dense examples and entertaining anecdotes. Ask them to take a stance on an issue. Whether it’s joy, sadness, amusement, surprise, shock, or disgust, it will capture readers’ attention and gain their trust. Furthermore, emotional appeals will help establish your brand, which is essentially the connection your business has with customers. Give them a certain feeling while they read your writing and they’ll begin to expect that feeling from every interaction with your company.
It’s complementary to message. If your message is what you’re trying to say, tone is how you say it. Neither your message nor your tone can stand alone and both are integral to clearly communicating information and ideas. Think of how two people can say the same word but with different inflections and each one embodies a different meaning. The way the word is said is just as important as the word itself when establishing what the person is saying. Tone is a vehicle for the message yet it becomes a part of the message itself in that it determines what the reader gains from the piece. For example, if your message is controversial, you can use tone to make your writing seem more friendly and palatable. On the other hand, if your message is boring, you can use tone to make it seem more interesting.
Details and consistency are everything. Tone is the sum of a lot of small parts included in your writing. Every word, punctuation mark, and paragraph break adds up to be the attitude or personality you’re trying to create. And you have to be consistent throughout the entire piece in order to make your desired effect. Remember that tone is the experience that a reader has with your writing and every little detail contributes to that experience.
Need more help perfecting your tone? Contact us. We’ll help you communicate your ideas with pitch perfect tone.