Truth 9. Tone makes—or breaks—your message

One day recently, Tom received an e-mail from a man named Peter, who wanted Tom’s company to hire him to give a presentation for the Human Resources department. It began, “Hey there! I’ll bet your guys haven’t seen this kind of show before, and you’ll be a hero for bringing me in.” The problem was that Tom’s company is a staid law firm with many of the partners and associates in their forties and higher. What was jarring about Peter’s message? Its tone, based on the obvious fact that Peter hadn’t researched his target audience.

When you’re writing something that is simple and not too important, you may only need to consider “goal,” “audience,” and “tone” for a minute. But when your purpose does matter, ...

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