HOW DELTA COMMUNICATES:
VOICE, TONE, AND VOCABULARY
One way we connect with our clients by being aware of our voice, our tone, and our vocabulary. This section explains the difference between all three, and lays out the elements of each as they apply to Delta Athletics.
What’s the difference between voice and tone? Think of it this way: You have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. You might use one tone when you’re out to dinner with your closest friends, and a different tone when you’re in a meeting with your boss.
Your tone also changes depending on the emotional state of the person you’re addressing. You wouldn’t want to use the same tone of voice with someone who’s scared or upset as you would with someone who’s laughing.
The same is true for Delta Athletics. Our voice doesn’t change much from day to day, but our tone changes all the time.
DELTA’S VOICE: THE UPBEAT MENTOR
Everyone involved in Delta Athletics has been drawn here for a personal reason. Whether it is a former competitive player who wants to share their knowledge, a parent who wants to build a supportive community, or an educator who feels their messages are best said through sport, we all have a reason for being here.
But no matter how we came to be part of Delta, we all share one common goal: to help the next generation experience athletics in a positive and supporting way – because we have been there, and we know the difference. That’s why we speak like the experienced and compassionate coach or mentor we wish we had way back when.
While we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we take the goals of our clients very seriously. We want to educate people without patronizing or confusing them.
Using gentle humor and a conversational voice, we play with language to bring joy to their experience. We prefer the subtle over the noisy, the casual over the formal. We are playful, because playful opens up the possible.
Whether people know what they need from us or don’t know the first thing about volleyball, every word we say informs and encourages. We impart our expertise with clarity, empathy, and joy.
all of this means that when we write copy:
- We are plainspoken. We understand the world our customers and clients are living in: one muddled by sports jargon, upsells, and over-promises. We strip all that away and value clarity above all. Because athletes come to Delta Athletics to learn, we avoid confusing them with fluffy metaphors or cheap plays to emotion.
- We are genuine. We get young athletes and concerned parents because we were once young athletes or concerned parents. That means we relate to customers’ challenges and passions and speak to them in a familiar, warm, and accessible way.
- We are translators. Only experts can make what’s difficult look easy, and it’s our job to demystify athletic terminology and actually educate.
- Our humor is warm. Our sense of humor is gentle, playful, and inclusive. We are always aware that there are children in the room, and we always include them in the joke. We are never condescending or exclusive – our goal is to get everyone to smile together.
DELTA’S TONE: CONVERSATIONAL
Delta’s tone is usually informal, but it’s always more important to be clear than entertaining. When you’re writing, consider the reader’s state of mind. Are they brand new to volleyball? Are they tired and confused after a long and disappointing club season? Once you have an idea of their emotional state, you can adjust your tone accordingly.
Delta Athletics has a sense of humor, so feel free to be funny when it’s appropriate and when it comes naturally to you. But don’t go out of your way to make a joke—forced humor can be worse than none at all. If you’re unsure, keep a straight face.
THE DELTA ATHLETICS vocabulary
The words we use in our daily lives have a subtle power – they shape our thinking in ways that that can be immensely helpful or incredibly destructive. That’s why Delta Athletics has chosen a few areas to define our language; because we want to make sure everyone presents themselves in the best light.
1. clients and customers
For many businesses, clients and customers are interchangeable ideas. That’s because for most business, the person receiving the service is the same one who is paying the bill. This is rarely the case for Delta Athletics, so we must define these terms across our company:
clients are the individuals who are in training
customers are the individuals who pay the bills
It is deeply important that we keep both groups in mind as we deliver our services. If we fail to make both groups happy, we risk losing our opportunities to train.
2. we train athletes
No matter the age, gender, race, religion, or skill level, the clients who enter our doors are athletes. That’s because when we refer to them as athletes, they begin to perceive themselves as athletic, and begin to regard our services as training. We never use terms like child, kid, little-one, or youngster as these words can minimize the individual, and can indicate to the parent/guardian that what we do is more like childcare than athletics. Likewise, because gender definitions are becoming more fluid in today’s society, we never use terms like girls, boys, ladies, or men to refer to our clients. We find it best to be accepting of all viewpoints, and we have found that using the term athlete is the most effective way to be inclusive.
4. athletes overcome challenges
At Delta Athletics, we have designed a system to allow may different skill sets to all train together in a positive way. We have built challenges to help athletes see where they are making progress, and where they still have work to do. We never use terms like test, exam, or try-out as these words can induce anxiety, and shift the focus from the task at hand to the end result. Likewise, these terms shift the power away from the athlete and towards the coach – thus changing our role from a supportive mentor to a judgemental taskmaster.
5. athletes earn badges
A badge is an item of honor, that must be earned. Terms like sticker or tag cheapen the item and the accomplishment.
6. we are coaches and teammates
Coaches are the individuals who provide the training and education, teammates are all the individuals inside Delta who support the business – from client services, to billing to accounting, to web development. While inside the business we may call ourselves employees, consultants, contractors, or customer-service, webmaster, or manager – to the outside we represent a team. Likewise, while a coach may fill the roles of educator, counselor, mentor, or trainer, the term we use for the embodiment for all these roles is coach.
|WE ALWAYS SAY
|WE NEVER SAY
|Child, kid, little-one, youngster, etc.
|Girls, boys, ladies, men, etc.
|test, exam, try-out
|Stickers or tags
|trainer, counselor, mentor, teacher, etc.
|employee, consultant, contractor, representative, etc.