Creating content involves much more than simply putting words in the empty space. For some, it's a craft or art form, while others consider it to be just another part of their daily routine. If you really want to create content that delivers your message in a way that strikes the right chord within your audience, it's important to mold and shape it like it really is a work of art.
Two of the most important components of any written content are tone and style. These are often misunderstood by writers who are either just starting out or who haven't taken the time to research their craft thoroughly before leaping into the writers' pool with both feet. Style doesn't mean that you are dotting your i's and crossing your t's to conform with a Manual of Style or set of writer's guidelines, and the tone of your content isn't defined by a "tone of voice" like an emphatic, emotional, or indifferent way of speaking.
Tone: What It Is & How to Choose It
The tone of your writing sets the stage for your content. Similar to the style, tone can give the impression of informal, highly technical, businesslike, or casually conversational communication. Consistency in tone (and style) can help you establish a "voice" for your brand, company, and overall image, and this consistency is invaluable in connecting with your audience because it gives them a familiar voice of authority once they've identified with and acclimated to the tone you use in your content.
The tone you choose should be distinctive and set your brand apart from others, singularly associating you with the rhythm and flow of your written words. When you develop a tone for your writing that readers can easily recognize, it enables them to feel connected to you on a more personal level, which aids in trust building and establishing stronger relationships with those you are attempting to reach.
When choosing your tone, you will want to first figure out what you want to say, the impression you want to convey, and the image you want to present. You can incorporate your mission, values, purpose, or goals in your tone to make it more singular and unique, and you should also imbue your tone with personality to give it life and individuality. Another key to choosing tone is to remember that your readers don't speak the same language you do when it comes to formality, technical jargon, and industry terminology. Keep your communications simple, straightforward, and easy to read and comprehend.
Style: How Formal Do You Want to Be?
Formal writing styles are generally defined by the point of view used, such as first, second, or third person. First person is delivered from the writer's personal perspective, using "I" and "we." An example of this would be, "I am thrilled to be able to share what we've done over the past six weeks, and we know you'll be looking forward to our innovative changes. I can't wait to share my accomplishments!."
Second person is less personal and uses the pronoun "you" to identify to whom the content is directed. Second person is illustrated in this way, "You will be excited to see the changes accomplished over the past six weeks, and the innovative changes will make a huge difference in your understanding of our company's accomplishments."
Third person is the least formal of the three styles, and creates the most distance between the writer and reader. An example of third person is, "The changes accomplished by the company in the past six weeks are innovative and have a far-reaching impact. For a start-up, it has become a dominant company in the industry in a short period of time."
When you choose the tone and style of your content, you will want to pick the ones that are best suited for the image your are attempting to convey and that will deliver your message to your audience in a way that enables you to create a strong connection and lasting impression almost immediately. Maya Angelou once said that people may not remember exactly what was written, but they do remember exactly how it made them feel. You want to evoke that feeling in your audience because emotion is the driving force behind most decisions we make on a daily basis, whether they are what to read, what to wear, where to eat, or what to purchase. Capture and conquer those emotions by drawing them out with your content.