I’ve had this conversation before – conversational vs formal tone

Found this insightful post by Kathy at Creating Passionate UsersConversational writing kicks formal writing’s ass … (I’m a big fan of this blog BTW) …

If you want people to learn and remember what you write, say it conversationally. This isn’t just for short informal blog entries and articles, either.

She then provides some really great information of a study that showed learners succeeding when the writing style was ‘informal.’ … (I feel like saying ‘DUH!) … and yet I’ve had many many conversations recently about the “appropriateness” of an informal tone in learning … this has come up more often around writing for web-based training programs for some reason …

It seems to me that the biggest objection to using an informal or conversational writing style is a (mis)-perception that the learner will become casual about – well – learning the content. … So, the remedy is this idea that the writing style has to be more stoic and rigid (the overly used word “professional” is tossed out).

But that’s not the case at all! Learning about having a conversation with the learner (hence a ‘conversational’ tone!).

at the core, virtually all brains learn the same way–through emotional response (which in turn triggers the brain to pay more attention and possibly record to long-term storage).

And engaging in a conversation has the potential to turn up the emotional gain much more than a dry, lifeless text or lecture.

If your brain had a bumper sticker, it would say: I heart conversation.

Now, I’m not advocating the use of slang or colloquialisms … but rather to use “you” when addressing the learners directly within the content …. for example – how many times have I seen: “The learners will be able to … blah blah blah” (ugh!)
Or what about using direct, active – and simple – sentences that are more like a dialogue between the content and the learner?

Read the post (and be sure to check out some of the comments as well).

About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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5 Responses to I’ve had this conversation before – conversational vs formal tone

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