How can you prioritize plain language in 2020?
Clear. Transparent. Actionable. Effective. Coherent. Anticipates reader needs.
If we were watching an episode of Jeopardy, this might be the answer to the simple question, What is good writing, Alex? But in the real world, we all encounter materials such as flyers, forms, or slide decks filled with bureaucratese, jargon, and overly academic language. Every. Single. Day.
No one goes into mission-driven work and says, “I want to create complicated forms today” or “I hope to make a dense and under-used handbook this year.” Sometimes, it’s just the way it’s always been done. Sometimes, the legal and bureaucratic restraints on writing feel overwhelming to counter. Sometimes, that curse of knowledge justs get in the way, and we can’t remember what it was like to not know the things we know.
So how can we do things differently?
Let’s agree on a few basic principles: People should be able to find information, understand it, and use it to make decisions about their lives. Communication guided by plain language and trauma-informed practices is good for organizations and good for people.
How You Can Be a Clear Communication Champion
Understand the foundations of plain language. Each quarter we hold free Plain Language Foundations workshops to help you build the skills needed to create clear materials for the people you serve. The March 12th workshop covers Creating Clear Community Presentations.
Take a deep dive into your existing materials. You don’t always need to start from scratch. Take a look at ways to clarify and correct the materials you are already using through our Writing for Understanding cohort. This 3-part facilitated series allows you to workshop your materials in peer groups.
Contact us for a free consultation. We'd love to talk to you about your plain language needs and our services. We can teach you to fish (provide stellar, tailored training for your team) or fish for you (review and revise your materials).
Follow us on social media. We share trends and resources, we laugh, we cry, and we love all things clear communication. Stay tuned!
Let's change systems together.