More Mr Nice Guy: How to write in a conversational, friendly way

More Mr Nice Guy: How to write in a conversational, friendly way

Rosie Hayes

Rosie Hayes
28th February 2018

Making your writing style more conversational isn’t appropriate for every company or every recipient of information, but honing in on this skill can be useful for certain instances wherein it can prove rewarding. These tips won’t be appropriate for every company, or every scenario, but will allow you to implement at your leisure to imbue your comms with an approachable element. 

Often, people come out of school, college or university, and continue writing all of their correspondences in quite a formal tone. There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, being able to write well in a formal, academic tone is an important skill that allows you to experiment from that as a foundational point. I would imagine that it would be harder to write conversationally all of your life, and then be expected to write an award-winning thesis than it is to downgrade your language to make it friendlier, so starting from the formal tone that most of us learn in academic institutions is, in fact, the best place to start.

Why learn to write formally before learning to write informally?

The reason it’s beneficial to learn formal writing before conversational writing is that it’s much easier to level down than it is to level up. Conversational writing is exactly that, levelling down. I say that because language has become a lot laxer over the years, but also because people naturally say things in a way that’s more succinct to get their point across faster. Conversational writing mirrors speech. Imperfect speech, even. The advantage of making your writing more conversational is that it softens the overall impact, which is especially important in interpersonal relations.

One use I’ve found to be particularly pertinent to conversational language is in emails. Emails are sent every day to colleagues, potential customers, and more, so being able to adapt your language for specific audiences is paramount. You need to be careful about who you use conversational language with, and what you’re using it for, because if it’s an important email to a CEO or a response to a customer complaint then these scenarios would obviously require a more serious and considered response. Conversely, for peer-to-peer communication, I find that a friendly tone can help to engender an open and collaborative atmosphere.

Who’s doing it well?

In addition to crafting a friendlier tone for emails, a further use of this style might be for a brand’s tone of voice. One prominent example of this would be Innocent drinks. Innocent has always had a friendly brand personality that reveals the passion of the individuals behind the company. Its overall messaging is in perfect alignment with the products themselves, which makes for a cohesive brand.

Check out a snippet of Innocent’s writing style here:

conversational friendly writing style  

You might be wondering how you can create a friendlier tone in your writing. One way you can instantly make your language more conversational is to start using contractions. Take a look at the images below of websites from Intrepid travel and Trello, and pay close attention to their use of contractions. Using contractions helps immensely to convey an approachable company, and an easy to understand service.

conversational friendly tone of voice writing

conversational friendly tone of voice

After looking at the contractions, another vital language style point to adopt that’ll make your tone seem more conversational and friendly is personalisation. The aforementioned companies have mastered this completely, and their messaging is customised to treat the reader with individual attention and care. By using “you” and “your” instead of grouping customers together, the reader feels more special, as if they are the sole recipient of the message. Writing like you’re talking at everyone instead of writing like you’re talking with someone can seem alienating and cold to a reader.

Other tips you might want to implement:

  • Use more of an active voice, and less of a passive voice.
  • Start sentences with “And”. Controversial, but acceptable.
  • Focus your writing on the reader. If there’s more “I” than “you” in your copy, you might want to amend.
  • Ask questions. Where necessary, throw in a question that might be important to the reader. This makes the text more inclusive, and more like an actual conversation.

To recap, two of the most appropriate ways to use a conversational writing tone is in emails, or consistently across marketing collateral as part of a brand tone of voice. Two ways to instantly make your writing friendlier are to use contractions and to use pronouns that focus directly on the individual reader. Utilising these points means you can achieve a less conservative effect, without compromising your glittering penmanship.

When do you like to use a conversational tone of voice? What are the benefits for you? Leave a reply on our UK Domain social media accounts.

Got questions about writing or editing? Ask your question and hashtag #AskTheUKDomain on social media and I’ll endeavour to get back to you.