1. Why is plain language important in your field/work?
Plain language is our raison d’ȇtre — we’re a plain language consultancy firm.
2. What is your presentation focus, and what are some of the key points participants will learn?
I’m doing two presentations. One is about a financial disclosure document that made history by becoming the first investment statement to carry the WriteMark Plain English Standard. Participants at this session will discover that, contrary to popular belief, a once-complex financial document can become clear and reader-friendly.
The other presentation is with Sarah Stacy-Baynes of the Cancer Society of New Zealand. It’s about making a good document even better by using a combination of document user-testing and elements-based assessment against a standard. Participants will have some fun trying out one type of document user-testing. They’ll also hear about the successes and challenges of refining a health information booklet that most people will use only when they, or a friend or family member, receive a difficult and stressful diagnosis.
And I’d love to put in a plug for another presentation from Write Limited. Do come and hear Lynda Harris talking about her new book called Rewrite: How to overcome daily sabotage of your brand and profit. We could have called this book Everything you need to know about creating a plain language culture in your organisation. It’s the ultimate how-to manual for plain language!
a) What is the best plain language advice you can give, or have received?
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Imagine a real person reading your document. (And remember they’re probably any one of: busy at work, pressed for time, tired, stressed, or disinterested. Whether highly literate or not, they deserve a document that’s clear, concise, and readable.)