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Using a personal voice

When addressing a group that is unaware of its membership (a blog, a BCC, a mailing list), it is often best to use a personal voice and address the group as if it were an individual. Avoid phrases like “all of you”, “sorry for the mass mailing”, or “some of you may know”. These phrases tend to distance the recipient from the message, and make it harder to convey emotional content.

On the other hand, do not try to intentionally trick recipients into thinking that the message was only sent to them and no one else. In some cases (blogs, message boards) the platform itself will make that obvious. In other cases (BCCs, mailing lists) use subject lines and headers to hint at the one-to-many nature of the message.

Reply one to one to follow up conversation to the extent that is possible, even if the reply is brief. Extend the personal voice to these conversations as well. Avoid referring to other people's responses with phrases like “You are the tenth person to say that”.

This sort of language breaks the promise of the personal voice.

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Comments (9)

All this is terribly good advice and I shall cherish it.

Dan:

I know that when you write or speak, you're writing or speaking just to me!

jischinger:

I'll attach a memo and file this quietly

Drake Walker:

There appears to be another side to this coin. When you would address your The Show viewers as the plural "Sports Racers" I would often get a warm feeling of community.

This idea that you all have come together to propose is an interesting one and I thank each one of you for it. I find I'm having difficulty putting it into practise, though.

snooge:

Just so you all know... many have come, but ze likes me best.

Team: please take this under advisement.

xian:

this is an excellent point and reminds me of one of my current peeves with the way Facebook and a number of other social apps work.

there is often no clear distinction between something sent specifically to you personally or to a list of people, and it matters.

that is, if christopher locke really just invited me to play scrabble that sounds like fun, but if he pushed a button that invited 90 people to play the new scrabble app he just installed (without necessarily realizing what he was doing) then that doesn't sound like fun at all.

Carole - age 61, fairly intelligent.:

You seem to have a lot to talk about. You are

making good use of pen and paper and other appro-

priate appliances. I believe this to be a

great outlet for any tendancies you have.

Congratulations on your work.


note: I didn't say "good work". Just kidding.

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