Content Design: The art of being plainspoken

Summary: Aspire to be plainspoken – communicate clearly, honestly, and directly to enhance understanding and efficiency.

graphic of a woman in action for a blog pst about how to create an effective call-to-action

Effective communication takes practice. Being a great writer or communicator is a kind of superpower that can make nearly every aspect of your life easier. However, with great power comes great responsibility; the clarity of language can also be used to confuse.

A worrying trend: documents are getting longer and longer. Simple questions receive lengthy responses. People ignore guidelines on document lengths. Paragraphs are bloated with five sentences when one would do. Sentences are stuffed with fifty words when five would suffice. While I appreciate thoroughness, this is something else entirely.

I’ve previously addressed this issue in the context of using corporate speak to break bad news. However, there are more common techniques that make it costly for the audience to engage. These documents are often too long, filled with jargon, and are formulaic or repetitive.

This type of writing usually comes from a place of good intention. Our desire to maintain harmony can lead us to be indirect about uncomfortable truths. Our desire to influence can cause us to pre-emptively address every potential objection. Our desire to impress can result in using more words than necessary. Additionally, the expectations we’ve internalised about corporate communication often make us write in a way we never would with friends.

When working on content, be plainspoken. This means communicating in a straightforward manner. It means having the conviction to be honest with one another so we can all improve. It means being direct not out of cruelty but out of kindness.

We should all aspire to be plainspoken.

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