This is a great guest article from The Content Wrangler. As the digital age has progressed, the more conversational tone has taken over in order to make communications more user-friendly. Ms. Davies does a great job talking about the differences between formal business voice and conversational voice in this article.
I would, however, add that I slightly disagree that a formal business tone be abandoned altogether except in highly serious situations. One of the things that really bothers me in digital communications–or even cold-calls that I receive–is familiar, conversational tones from a stranger. Sometimes, it gets to be TOO informal. Call me old fashioned, but I think there’s an in-between level whereby you can use a more conversational tone yet keep things sounding (or reading) like a professional. If you sound like a kid trying to hawk goods or get on your good side, that’s a big turn-off for me. If you sound like you mean business without the “fancy” words, then I’ll definitely listen to you or read what you have to say. Finding that middle ground is a little difficult, and it takes practice, but it can be done. I’d like to think that it’s almost taking a diplomatic tone, if you want to call it that. You speak using words that everyone can understand, but on terms that also been that you are serious and focused on the message at hand.
What do you think about the use of formal business tone versus an informal tone in digital communications, whether it is an email or a webpage? Include your comments below.