Can you create your own tone of voice?

I was asked to pitch for some work recently. The brief was for tone of voice guidelines. But that’s like asking for a specific drill bit.

Once I started asking questions, I knew they really wanted their people to write well, with empathy and humanity. They needed a certain-sized hole, not a drill bit.

You can’t change how people write with guidelines, you achieve that through behaviour change.

In our bigger projects we spend a lot of time training people so that happens. But what do you do when you don’t have the time or budget? 

I’ve been working with a charity in exactly that position. They wanted help with their vision, mission and values, and knew they needed to be better writers. But they didn’t have the budget for a large-scale change project.

So, I took a different approach – coaching their team to get the result they wanted. 

Instead of writing a set of guidelines and handing them over, I’m coaching and mentoring one of their leaders. In 2 two-hour sessions a month, we’re writing the vision and guidelines together.

But why take this approach?

  • It’s great if you’ve got limited resources but want real change.
  • You get ongoing support for your writing.
  • You’re in charge of what you’re creating, no consultancy telling you ‘the best way’.
  • You’ve got expertise on tap but in a budget-friendly way.
  • You’ll get your team writing in harmony.

I love this kind of work and my client is getting just what they need. So do you think I should offer more coaching work? I’d love to hear what you think. 

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