What is this? From this page you can use the Social Web links to save Watch your tone! to a social bookmarking site, or the E-mail form to send a link via e-mail.

Social Web


E-mail It
February 11, 2008

Watch your tone!

Posted in: Uncategorized

Way back when I was a teenager, my parents were constantly telling me to “Watch your tone.” (Actually, what they said was, “Watch your tone, Jessica Christy.” I still don’t like my middle name.)

Did your parents teach you this lesson, too?

They didn’t know it, but they were teaching you a POWERFUL newsletter lesson. One you’ve probably forgotten to apply that can make an enormous difference in how your readers relate to you.

So, when it comes to your newsletter, what, precisely, is a tone?

Your newsletter tone is the WAY you sound. It’s the words you choose, the length of your sentences and paragraphs. It’s the way you put everything together.

I’m sure you’ve gotten newsletters that had a snooty tone. The writer seems to think he (or she) knows everything and that you’re lucky to get to read those carefully chosen words.

Or maybe you’ve received newsletters that have a sort of dazed tone. Where the writer doesn’t seem to know whether they’re coming or going.

And then, there are those writers whose tone makes you want to get to know them.
These are the people you’d like to meet for lunch, the people you’d entertain if they came to your town.

How can you write with the right tone?

First, of course, you need to decide what kind of tone you want to write with. (Review The e. e. cummings secret that could transform your newsletter if you need help.)

Once you’ve decided on your tone, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Word choice
    Shorter, more common words generally seem friendlier. If you want to be a bit pretentious, use larger words.

    If you want readers to see you as a great communicator, use words they’re sure to understand.

  • Sentence length
    Shorter sentences generate urgency and energy. If you want readers to push through the newsletter at a quick clip, use shorter sentences. Be brief.

    If you want readers to feel more relaxed as they go through the newsletter, take a longer route through sentence construction.

  • Paragraph length
    Again, short generates energy, long slows things down. But, paragraph length also ties into the visual tone of a newsletter. Longer paragraphs may look cumbersome to readers, and they may be intimidated before they even begin.

    So, on the balance, lean towards shorter paragraphs rather than longer, no matter what kind of tone you’re creating.

Always remember your parents’ advice to watch your tone! It’ll make a huge difference in how your readers relate to you.

Return to: Watch your tone!