Finding your voice

Finding your voice is about speaking, as much as possible, with a single tone.

However, this is not about generating monotony, but consistency.

Imagine your organisation as a single human being. With one voice, that person can tell a joke, deliver a eulogy and whisper a secret. They can sound sombre, whimsical or profound as the occasion demands, while still sounding like themselves.

This is the primary challenge of business communication, and it’s something we do unconsciously in any other context!

So start by simplifying. Examine those values your organisation holds dear and decide how they influence your tone.

The closer your voice is aligned with your vision, the more authentic and effective it will be.

Consider three prominent vision statements:

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” The company often appends founder Bill Bowerman’s statement, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” – Nike

“To provide the tools and knowledge to allow entrepreneurs to compete successfully in the Fast Food industry worldwide, by consistently offering value to consumers through providing great tasting food that is good for them and made the way they want it.” – Subway

“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” – Google

Take a look at any material from those organisations, and you should see the framework of that vision behind it, helping them to develop and maintain a consistent tone, and thereby a recognisable identity. Nike’s tone is imperative and aspirational – “Just do it.” Subway’s messaging (ironically, it might be argued) emphasises the local nature of their franchises and is similarly commanding – “Eat Fresh.” Google is adept at creating simple representations of data – “accessible and useful” – and keeping the tone (ostensibly) as neutral as possible.

Try to describe the current tone of your organisation in a single sentence.

Then invite others in…

This isn’t only about you: conversation requires multiple voices.

  • Who are your clients, your stakeholders and your staff?
  • How will your tone resonate with them?
  • How can it include (or exclude) them?

When in doubt, ask for feedback. Offer a survey, read your reviews, and be open to improvement. A human voice, wonderful though it might be, can still benefit from singing or speech lessons, and listening to your audience is the easiest way to recognise where you are and start growing.