What training leaders taught me about tone of voice

I was gazing out at 100 leaders yesterday, and every one of them had a hand in the air.

I’d just asked how many were aware of their company’s tone of voice. What was gratifying about the response was that they were members of the UK/Ireland management team of BCD Travel, my long-standing client.

We developed BCD’s brand strategy and tone of voice in 2012 and trained many of their teams. But apart from getting me back to speak at their conferences, they’d been embedding their tone of voice without our help.

It was clearly working—they’d won awards for their tender documents as a result.

I was back to run a mini-workshop to refresh people. As I ran through the exercises, it struck me how quickly senior people get the hang of a new brand tone. It’s as if they just need to be pointed in the right direction and they have the confidence to get on with it.

Confidence is what makes tone of voice stick. Senior people are more confident doing what’s right for customers in the moment. Often, those with less authority, who are in contact with customers day-to-day, are cautious about breaking the process. That’s natural, of course.

But what does this teach us about tone of voice? It isn’t just about writing. It’s about what you do. A strong tone is pointless if the business can’t deliver what it promises. Senior people see that, and they have the confidence to change things.

So how can you empower all your people to do the right thing for customers in the moment?

For a start, how about training in your tone of voice with a senior person in the room?

What ideas do you have?

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