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  • Sarah Black

Why good communication is plain and simple

I ran a comms workshop recently where I asked everyone to take about 90 seconds in silence to reflect on all the information, communications and messages they’d had to process in the first few hours of their day – everything from social media, work emails and news to whether they’d had a chat with anyone at breakfast.

It’s not a complicated exercise but it provides a way to start to make sense of the overwhelming amount of information we’re all trying to process every day. Throw in any amount of personal stress, translating it all into a different language or culture and grappling with a lack of accessibility, and it's utterly exhausting.

And that’s before we start to process the awfulness of every daily news bulletin right now.

This is why simplicity is vital for today’s global communicators.

We need to work harder to distil down all the ‘noise’ within our organizations to simple, clear, precise messages. Let me be clear – this is HARD. There is nothing easy about simple. You’ve got to do the deep work to be able to prioritize language, sentiment and meaning into simple statements.

Plain language is likely to be more accessible – forget idioms that don’t translate across languages and cultures. If you can get the absolute essence of your messages into their purest form, it’s a lot easier to adapt their communication to cultural contexts and languages. For those working on text-to-voice or using captions, it can make a huge difference too.

Simple, plain language may also be more memorable. It gets easier to repeat, to understand and to recall.

Simple is not dumbing down. It's about distilling – finding the purest form of expressing the most complex ideas. It should never be the end of nuance or insight. Fun fact: there is research that shows that plain language makes us appear smarter. And even lawyers like it better.

What can you do to make your communication simpler?

 If you'd like to chat to me about working with you to make your messaging simpler, more inclusive and more effective, please get in touch. I'm now planning my work for 2025.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about plain language, check out this conversation with Ema Naito (she/her), a bilingual editor, who loves clear, plain English and its power to promote an inclusive world.

And finally, A Quick Dip is on iTunes – you can catch up on Season 1 now, which at 15 minutes per episode won’t take long.

Photo Credit: Nathaniel Shuman on Unsplash


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