The Tone of Voice in eLearning: How to Set the Tone for Your eLearning Project

When you hear the phrase tone of voice, what is your first association? For most people, it is probably about the tone of the spoken voice in the conversation. While that is a correct association, the tone of voice is applicable to and important for so many other ways of communication as well. Here we will take a look at some things to consider when it comes to the tone of voice in content creation, especially in written content for your eLearning solutions. So, let’s get started.

The Tone of Voice in Writing

The tone of voice in writing can make quite a difference in how the message you want to convey will be received. At the heart of every eLearning project, there is always some sort of content that needs to be presented to a certain audience. This content will usually be prepared in written form, but it can be brought to life by using various mixed media elements, such as voice-over actors, AI voices, animations, videos, and similar.

All of those elements combined create a complete learning experience which means that the tone of voice should take into consideration and be aligned with all those other factors. Therefore, it is important to carefully prepare and research ahead of writing. Here are some things you should consider when choosing the right tone of voice for your eLearning content.

4 Things to Think About When Choosing a Tone of Voice

1. Target Audience

The first thing you need to consider is who is the target audience. Ask yourself, ‘Who are you communicating your message to?’ ‘For whom is this content intended?’ and ‘What is its purpose?’ Answering those simple questions before you start developing your written content can lead you a long way.

Depending on the answers, you should adjust the tone of voice you’ll be using. Typically in eLearning, you want to educate your audience on some topic, which makes the tone of voice in which you will address your audience all the more important. Consider the age, profession, and motivation of your audience to adjust the tone of voice for your content accordingly.

Age can be a very important factor, as different generations might have different preferences and expectations in communication. For example, when you want to use a more entertaining tone of voice, using slang words or popular culture references can add an interesting factor to your writing, but you need to adjust it to your target audience, as your choice of jokes and references might appeal to one age group while completely going over the heads of another.

Similarly, your digital education content might differ depending on the profession and industry that it is intended for. Some professions might be more open to irreverent and humorous tone, while others might consider that tone too unprofessional and will want to stick with a more informative and serious tone.

Finally, it does not hurt to consider the motivation of your audience. The questions to ask are, for example: ‘Is the education mandatory?’, ‘Are they choosing to participate themselves?’, ‘Is it something of vital importance for their career or education, or just something additional that sparked their interest?’ All of this information can significantly change the way you want to communicate your message to your learners.

2. Brand Image

eLearning solutions are often created in collaboration with and for different companies and organizations in various fields and industries. That leads us to another important thing you’ll need to consider when choosing the tone of voice – the existing brand image of the company or organization. The tone of voice of your eLearning project needs to be aligned with the guidelines of the company or organization you are collaborating with.

You’ll want your eLearning solutions to fit into the existing image and accentuate the message of the company, whether they are intended for employees, customers, or both. It is true that you will probably be conveying some new knowledge through your eLearning project, but it is always a good idea to connect it to the already existing brand image. In that way, you are highlighting the source of this knowledge, staying in line with your client’s values, and showing respect for everything they stand for.

Sometimes clients won’t have a built brand behind them, and then it can be a good idea to use a more neutral approach. It is advisable to keep it simpler and on the safer side with a, for example, friendly but professional tone of voice.

3. Types of Voices

Once you know your target audience and you get familiar with the brand image, it is time to use that knowledge to decide on the type of voice you will be using while writing content for your eLearning project. If we think about some opposite ends of the scale when it comes to the tone of voice, we might think about using formal or informal language, funny or serious approach, irreverent or respectful tone, and enthusiastic or matter-of-fact voice.

However, you can always mix it up with, for example, the above-mentioned professional but friendly or, let’s say, serious but approachable. You can also try keeping the tone very serious when it comes to more complex aspects of the content that need to be taught while interjecting it with a more light-hearted tone on less complicated parts of the content.

4. Needs Analysis

Needs analysis is the starting point in the process of the development of eLearning solutions. During this step, you should determine the tone of voice you will be using in your future eLearning projects.

When conducting a needs analysis, all of the above-mentioned information should be considered in order to come up with a personalized approach for each client. At this stage, you should really take the time to get to know your client and ask questions that will help you determine the ideal tone of voice that will perfectly represent their company or organization, as well as efficiently convey new knowledge to learners.


The tone of voice carries a lot of importance, and it can determine how the entire eLearning project will be perceived by the learners. That is why it is important to carefully analyze and asses who is your target audience, what is the existing image of the company, and pick the tone of voice that would best suit them. All of this information should come together during the needs analysis stage when you have the opportunity to set the entire project on the right track.

Once you collect all the necessary information and carefully conduct the needs analysis, consider the most common types of voices and pick the one that best suits the situation, or mix them up for added effect.

Author: Tajana Kovačević

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