Tone of Voice: Misinterpretation Happens

Voice over day

Image by Miikka Skaffari via Flickr

I’m a writer and can’t help but read, proofread, and question everything that cross my path; from newspaper and magazine articles to newsletters; from eBooks to flyers; from blog posts to catalog script; from sales letters to email blasts; from Twitter and Facebook updates (including my own); and everything in between. Last week, I received an email reply from someone and chuckled when I read it. As the reader, I felt the ‘tone‘ of the email was matter-of-fact and sharp. It started off with, “I suggest you…” and carried on from there. Of course, I could have read it with a soft “I suggest you,” but I read it as a forceful “I suggest you…” Perhaps I was feeling the pull of the partial solar eclipse on July 1! Then again, it could be I have more experience than the person who wrote the email. I would have begun the email with, “Thank you for contacting so and so,” and would have written it from there.

According to the word tone has the following meanings:

1. any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength, source, etc.: shrill tones.
2. quality or character of sound.
3. vocal sound; the sound made by vibrating muscular bands in the larynx.
4. a particular quality, way of sounding, modulation, or intonation of the voice as expressive of some meaning, feeling, spirit, etc.: a tone of command.
5. stress of voice on a syllable of a word.

Your tone of voice does matter, especially in sales and marketing. While you’re not responsible for the reactions of others, you don’t want to use a tone of voice that deters them from purchasing your books, eBooks, teleseminars, webinars, and or writing services. It would behoove you to read and re-read your newsletter content, email blasts, and other marketing materials you send out. Also, make sure your personal assistant or staff knows how to write effective copy. You want people to buy your books, CDs, and other products. You don’t want them ‘tweeting’ or posting something on Facebook about their horrible experience with you or your company. Like it or not, this does happen from time-to-time.

FYI: Your tone of voice could override the words you speak and write.

Before you or your staff writes an email blast, sales letter, newsletter, or replies to an email, make sure the tone of voice matches you and your brand. Read your writing out loud to ‘hear’ the tone of voice. How does your writing sound? How does whatever you’re sending out read? What will readers get out of your writing? Make sure the tone you use is one that you want to convey instead of being misinterpreted.


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