Digging deeper into ‘tone of voice’


We need to ensure that what we say makes sense to our audiences, including those who may not understand all the complexities of the areas that we work in, without patronising or speaking down to them (not always an easy balance to strike).

We want to be inclusive to as wide an audience as possible, while still demonstrating our knowledge and skills.

You may happen to have an advanced degree or years of experience in a certain subject area, but your reader may not always be familiar with information – and shorthand ways of conveying it (e.g. abbreviations and technical terminology) – that are second nature to you.

  • Consider the audience: We need to be mindful of who we are trying to reach with our content and the level of their specialist knowledge, which may vary from piece to piece.
  • Keep sentences concise: One point per sentence is a good guideline, although longer technical documents (e.g. White Papers) may necessitate more complexity.
  • Make your copy impactful: Ensure your meaning is clear, succinct, precise, easy to understand, factual and insightful.
  • Don’t get lost in the detail: Avoid the use of overly complicated language and jargon for the sake of it. Plain speaking is always preferable, although that doesn’t mean we need to fear our expertise (see below for more). Leave out unnecessary detail if it doesn’t serve to add value to your content or aid understanding.

Try to use straightforward verb constructions: as far as possible use present, past and future tense – avoid conditional and derivatives thereof. Try and remove “could” and “might” as far as possible. For example, “We could provide XYZ service” to “We provide XYZ service”. The “could” is implied.


We are lucky to have so many talented and knowledgeable people working within the business and we shouldn’t shy away from our expertise. Confidence in who we are, what we do, and how we do it should come across in all communications.

  • Demonstrate your knowledge: Be confident in your abilities and what you’re saying, be unafraid of voicing your knowledge and expertise.
  • Share your enthusiasm: Taking pride in what we do as a business, and your role within it, is important in encouraging others to trust us as the ‘right people for the job’.
  • Don’t fear technical terminology: While we want to avoid unnecessary jargon, we shouldn’t shy away from the specialist fields we inhabit. It may be worth taking the time to explain technical language or terminology however, particularly for audiences who may not be overly familiar. Clarity of meaning should always take precedence.


We want our content to be thought-provoking and to open a dialogue, and there are some simple (and perhaps obvious!) linguistic tricks to ensure we connect with our audience.

  • Try to write in the first person, plural “we”: This ensures that our content is warm and ‘human’, rather than cold and remote. Generally speaking, first mention should be “Sagentia Innovation” as in, “Sagentia Innovation provides advisory and product development services”. Follow up mentions should be with pronoun “we”; “We work extensively in the medical, consumer, food & beverage and industrial sectors.”
  • Use the active (not passive) voice: Sentences written in the active voice, where the subject of the sentence performs the action, add impact to your writing and are often more concise than passive. Swapping the structure of your sentence around is usually all that is needed
  • Passive: It was demonstrated during research that Chemical Y is good for the heart.
  • Active: Researchers found that Chemical Y is good for the heart.
  • Be vibrant in your descriptions: We want to tell a story and engage our reader with the narrative journey we are leading them on. Don’t be afraid of including a splash of ‘colour’ in your writing – whether an anecdote from your personal life or an example from popular culture that makes concrete the point you are illustrating.


We take on complicated challenges for our clients which make an impact on their business’s strategy and product development.

  • Demonstrate why the things we do have an impact: Explain the results of the point you are making. Contextualise the ‘so what?’, make clear why what you’re saying is important beyond Sagentia / Science Group. We’re working on behalf of the client to build their IP and impact on their business at a high level. Use sentences like “We provide services in X,Y,Z which means you can achieve X,Y,Z.”
  • Use evidence to back up your claims: We have built up a body of white papers, insight pieces and case studies that we can draw on to illustrate our points and make tangible how we’re leading the way in research, practical implementation of cutting edge science, and commercial strategy.
  • Joined up thinking: We have a vast wealth of both scientific and commercial expertise and we can look at the business context of an innovation, as well as the steps needed to overcome the technical challenges to achieving it, something that makes us unique as a business.


We want to demonstrate that we’re intelligent and innovative, but still approachable and want to reassure that we won’t overcomplicate things for the sake of it.

  • Demonstrate innovative thinking: Be confident in articulating new or unconventional ideas or approaches. Show that your arguments and solutions have been well thought through.
  • Be challenging and challenge yourself: We’re constantly looking at the world around us and keeping up to date with the forefront of all the sectors we work in. Don’t be afraid to champion this knowledge, while also recognising the ‘unknowns’ that this entails.
  • Joined up thinking: We don’t work in silos and can draw on knowledge from across the wider group, from R&D to regulatory, to look at the ‘bigger picture’. We can use what we know from one area to apply these lessons to other areas, in a way that other organisations can’t.


We need to show our audience(s) that we’re a safe pair of hands. We’re doing things that are new and different, but we’re not reckless mavericks. We take a realistic, considered approach, and think things through. We are self-aware and reflective. Our work is grounded in science, diligence, and evidence- based approaches, and everything we do is driven by our clients’ needs to innovate.

  • Be confident in our brand identity: Connect what you’re talking about back to the motivations and goals of our business, and how they meet those of our clients.
  • Be confident in innovation: Don’t feel you have to apologise for doing things differently – it’s key to our ability to make a difference.
  • Be confident in your approach: Back up what you’re saying with evidence and examples where appropriate.
  • Think about language: Avoid language that could be interpreted as vague or uncertain e.g. might, maybe or perhaps. Avoid negative language to describe what we do, e.g. can’t, won’t, unable to.