Do you consciously think about your voice as you write? If not, there’s a risk that some of your texts may strike the wrong note.
Writing voices are trickier to modulate than speaking voices because the tone of a text relies only on words and grammatical structures. In writing, we can’t use facial expressions, body language or changes in volume to add nuances to our messages. Perhaps that’s why GIFs and smileys are so popular on social media. It’s not appropriate to use smileys in a fund report or press release, so what can you do instead?
“You should adapt your writing voice to suit your audience and your intention”
Think about how you talk to your granny, a puppy, old university friends, colleagues and clients. Do you use the same vocabulary, sentence structures and vocal pitch regardless of who you are speaking to? Probably not. Similarly, you should adapt your writing voice to suit your audience and your intention.
A good place to start is with your words. Experiment with using more and less formal vocabulary (chief executive officer/CEO/boss; statistics/numbers/stats, for example). Similarly, notice how using contractions such as “it’s” and “won’t” changes the tone of your text.
Experiment with your sentence structures and punctuation too. And notice how serious journalists use very short sentences, rhetorical questions and sentences beginning with “and” or “but” to emphasise key points or to signal a change in direction.
“Don’t lose the connection between your speaking and writing voices”
Most importantly, don’t lose the connection between your speaking and writing voices. Try reading your texts aloud as you write and edit them. If a sentence doesn’t sound right when it’s spoken, it probably doesn’t read well either.
A natural, conversational writing voice exudes confidence and professionalism, and so it’s well worth learning how to make the most of yours.