In both verbal and written communications, using the right words to convey your message is crucial. This is especially true in financial communications, when you might have limited space or time to communicate what can be quite a technical message. But language, both written and spoken, is about far more than the right words in the right order. The tone you use, I believe, is equally important. Get that wrong, and it’s like adding a full stop. in the middle of a sentence. It confuses your message and switches off your audience.
For example, using contractions in a formal document is widely discouraged. It just seems overly familiar. But using contractions in an educational guide for beginners, or a ‘blog’ style editorial piece makes much more sense – it helps the flow for the reader and feels more natural. I even encourage my clients to use contractions in marketing brochures as the text better replicates how they would speak to their audience if they were marketing a product to them face-to-face.
Given how important the tone of a communication is, it always amazes me how many firms don’t have ‘tone of voice’ guidelines. As a result, their communications are often quite garbled, moving between describing themselves in the 1st and 3rd person, and using a numerical digit here and spelling out a number there. Having clear guidelines to set your tone not only helps add some brand consistency to your communications, it also sets the standard for all your copywriters to stick to.