The Right Tone
When you write a business letter, it’s important to
use a tone that is friendly but efficient. Readers want to
know there’s someone at the other end of the letter
who is taking notice and showing interest in their concerns.
Try to sound—and be—helpful and friendly.
To do this, write as you would speak and talk on paper. This
doesn't mean you should use slang, bad grammar or poor English,
but try to aim for a conversational style and let the reader
hear your voice.
Imagine that your reader is sitting opposite you at your
desk or is on the telephone. You’d be unlikely to say “please
be advised” or “I wish to inform you”; instead
you’d be more informal and say, “I’d like
to explain” or “Let me explain” or use other
Here are some ways to change your writing style to a conversational
Using contractions such as it's, doesn't, I'm, you're, we're,
they're, isn't, here's, that's, we'll gives a personal and
human feel to your writing.
If there are no contractions in your writing, put some
in. You don't have to use contractions at every opportunity.
Sometimes writing do not comes more naturally than don't.
When you speak, you probably use a combination of these
reflect this in your writing.
Use Personal References
Use words such as I, we, you, your, my, and our in your
writing. Don't be afraid to identify yourself—it
makes writing much more readable. This is a useful trick
to make writing look and sound more like face-to-face
Using I, we and you also helps you to avoid using passive
verbs. It makes your style more direct and clear.
So instead of writing:
Our address records have been amended ...
We’ve changed your address in our records ...
Instead of writing:
The company policy is ...
Our policy is ...
Using active verbs with personal references is a quick and
dramatic way to make your writing readable and more direct.
Use Direct Questions
Direct questions are an essential part of the spoken language.
Using them gives your writing much more impact and is a common
technique in marketing and advertising material. Marketing
people use this technique to put information across clearly
and to give their writing impact.
In much business writing, we hide questions in our writing
by using words such as whether to introduce them. Look for
these in your writing and change them into direct questions.
Original:We would appreciate your advising us whether you
want to continue this account or transfer it.
Redraft:Do you want to continue your account or transfer
Original:Please inform us whether payment
against these receipts will be in order.
Redraft:Can we pay against these receipts?
Apart from making your style more conversational, direct
questions liven up your writing—it’s as though
you change the pitch in your voice. There’s nothing
like a direct question to get some reaction from your
reader and to give your writing impact.