70 | The power of words in creating inclusive cultures, with Charli Nordonne


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By Scott McInnes and Inspiring Change. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.


Words matter -- whether the goal is to promote buy-in among staff, save time on internal communications or create a more inclusive workplace culture.

In this episode of the Building Better Cultures podcast, Scott McInnes invites Charli Nordone, group creative director at The Writer, to take a deep dive into the power of language. It has never been more important to be intentional and disciplined in choosing the right tone of voice, along with words that communicate with precision. Great writing produces positive results across the enterprise – from creating engaging internal HR documents to building a big-budget advertising campaign to producing a coherent annual report that can be digested quickly and easily. Flabby, unfocused or cliched language can have just the opposite effect.

A decade ago, Charli had difficulty persuading clients to consider using the word “use” rather than “utilise.” Few people understood the value of word choice and the power of clarity. Not so anymore. She explains why leaders today are demanding higher quality communications – and the value proposition smart writing represents. Effective branding is dependent on compelling language. Productive internal communications depend on the right choice of voice and disciplined messaging. And in an era of heightened sensitivity and commitment to inclusivity, poorly or insensitively chosen words can have an unintentional, and unnecessarily alienating effect.

Simply put, wherever you look within a company’s culture, words matter.

Charli shares with Scott strategies for defining and putting into practice a company-wide “tone of voice.” She also explains how her team at The Writer helps companies develop writing strategies to turbo-charge brand messaging, cut through counter-productive jargon and inspire engagement, whether among employees or prospective customers. Their conversation covers real-world use cases and demonstrates how clearly conceived, crisply written documents pay off with higher response rates and fewer incidents of miscommunication.

Check out The Writer’s readability checker mentioned at the end of the podcast here.

More information about the Dixons Carphone case Scott references can be found here.

Key Takeaways:

  • What “tone of voice” means and why is it so essential to clear, effective messaging.
  • Learning any new skill takes time, support and permission to try with impunity.
  • Remember when you’re writing: It’s all about the reader.
  • Choice of tone is similar in some ways to using a color palette. There are gradients to consider and options to deploy that are specific to circumstance.
  • Flexibility is critical to implementing the most effective “tone of voice.”
  • The (important) role of language in fostering inclusion and embracing diversity.
  • “Hi Guys” and the varying interpretations to consider.
  • When in doubt, be brave and ask. It shows that you’re interested in getting pronouns, pronunciation or other variables right.
  • Practical suggestions for those looking to improve leadership and cultural sensitivity around issues of inclusivity.
    • Understand “business speak” (acronyms and arcane terminology) and the way it can be inherently off-putting or exclusive.
    • Deploy gender decoder tools such as Microsoft Word’s inclusive language checker.
    • Always run whatever you’ve written past a fresh pair of eyes, particularly those whose perspective is other than your own.
    • Dig deep into internal and external policy documents to understand where default language is either alienating or exclusive.
  • Clarity enhances marketing language, optimizes internal communications.
  • Metrics are available to measure the ROI that comes with intentionally conceived, well-considered, disciplined writing.
  • Senior leaders and board members are less and less tolerant of the time sink associated with windy, ineffective writing. Brevity is king.

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To learn more about Workvivo, a workplace communication platform that offers seamless digital integration, please click here.

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