Do you know the difference between the active and passive voice? It’s one of those technical language things that sounds way more complicated than it actually is.

In the active voice, something does something. In the passive voice, something is done to something.

So for example:

Lunch will be provided.

That’s passive. The active version is:

We will provide lunch

Or again:

The event was hosted by Jo


Jo hosted the event

We have a tendency to use the passive voice when we write business communications. We think it’s more formal or clever, somehow. But it’s actually much less engaging. Passive language can be overly wordy and vague, or even seem evasive.

There’s an easy fix. You use the active voice perfectly naturally when talking to somebody face to face. You wouldn’t say:

Information will be sent to you

That’s offhand and distant. Instead, you’d instinctively say:

I’ll send you information

So write like you speak. In this example, the change in sentence structure is slight but the change in tone is significant. The active voice is clear, direct and confident. The passive voice is something to be avoided… er, something to avoid.