Writing in plain language is supposed to clarify and simplify, so readers can work quickly and easily. But writing with clarity and simplicity isn’t quick or easy. It isn’t cheap, either.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I apologize for sending you this long letter, but I didn’t have time to write you a shorter one.” Honest Abe spoke the truth—writing concisely in plain language takes time and effort. But in today’s fast-paced workplace, taking the time to write in plain language is often seen as an unaffordable luxury. That’s too bad, because poor communication is much more costly.
There’s no way around it—creating simple, effective communication in plain language isn’t quick or easy. It takes time for writers to understand the content they’re working with and their audiences’ needs. It takes time for them to learn the capabilities and limitations of content creation, storage and delivery technologies. Conducting user reviews and making changes based on users’ input also takes time and effort. Communicating effectively in plain language is demanding work, and it costs organizations money.
Poor communication costs more—a lot more. When an organization decides to cut corners in its document development process, the costs of that decision far exceed the savings. Lower employee productivity, high error rates, compliance problems and increased risk are among the consequences. Less tangible but equally damaging effects include poor morale, dissatisfied customers and flawed decision making.
The world gets more information-intensive and complex every day. Evolving technologies, changes in the workforce and a volatile global marketplace add to the complications for organizations that are already struggling to manage ever-increasing amounts of content. They have a simple choice to make: pay the costs necessary to implement plain language and clear, effective communication strategies now, or prepare to pay the resulting costs of poor communication, which are certain to be far greater.
Don’t let implementation issues deprive your organization of the benefits of a corporate content standard. Recognizing the obstacles and being prepared to deal with them will help ensure your success.
To succeed in implementing plain language at your organization, you need to move beyond shorter sentences and think about ways to make information easily accessible, clear and understandable. Download these 5 tips to get started.
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