Are you as annoyed as I am when you listen to politicians?
With the elections in South Africa on 7 May 2014, I thought candidates would at least try to communicate clearly. I don’t understand what most of them are saying, and I don’t care about their messages because of this. I am tired of jargon and ambiguity. I wish someone would just say what they mean.
When we communicate in plain language, misunderstandings disappear. Readers actually read our information and use it. The audience actually listens and understands. We don’t spend precious time explaining what we meant.
Communicating in plain language
- Streamlines procedures and paperwork
- Increases understanding and satisfaction
- Reduces confusion
- Reduces complaints
- Reduces enquiries seeking clarification
- Creates a positive image
- Saves time and money
Why waste resources producing documents that are dense and difficult to understand?
People don’t have the time, patience or energy to wade through badly-written material. They don’t want to listen to boring long-winded speeches. Everyone benefits from using plain language. Non-profit and the public service sector improve their reputation in the eyes of the public. Private industry gains a competitive advantage.
In South Africa (even though you wouldn’t think so from listening to most politicians, lawyers, and business leaders) communicating in plain language is necessary. The Consumer Protection Act, National Credit Act and the Companies Act (to name a few) have made the use of plain language compulsory. Compliance helps you avoid unnecessary legal costs. (See the e-toll debacle.)
Amanda Patterson is CEO of Writers Write, which offers courses in plain language business writing.