13 Jul Forgo the fluff: Why plain English is better for business
Emails with a confusing response… or no response at all? Website pages with high bounce rates? Sales proposals that result in radio silence?
My oh my! What’s going on?
We suspect there might be something awry with your team’s business writing.
And it’s likely as simple as this: They’re not using plain English – the clear, direct and oh-so-easy way of writing.
Here at RM, we champion plain English. So let’s explore how simple and concise writing can lead to a big business boom.
Avoid the ‘huh?’
When there is a sizeable portion of droning, prolonged sentences that would appear to never end, and the writer has meticulously inserted an adverb or adjective at every conceivable opportunity – which doesn’t really seem to have much of a purpose other than to remind the reader of their superior literacy skills – it can become very difficult to identify the point of the paragraph.
See what I did there?
An absolute monstrosity of a sentence. I don’t blame you if you gave up after the first line. A dilemma with – potentially – dire consequences.
When your emails, reports and other documents are confusing, readers put them in the ‘too hard basket’ in an instant.
And this disengagement can turn to disillusionment with your business or brand before you know it.
Take back your time
Writing in plain English gets your message across in the shortest time possible.
According to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, poor workplace communication can result in stuff not getting done in 44% of cases.
Who wants to spend extra, precious minutes of their day trying to translate difficult, wordy blocks of text?
Or worse – redoing work? *Shudders*
I don’t know about you, but that would take the top spot on my ‘Things I Don’t Want to Do’ list. Right next to fielding frustrating phone calls from people who didn’t understand what I was trying to say in my email.
Documents in plain English will typically take less time to read and understand, which then results in faster responses from your audience. Saving your time. Their time. Everyone’s time!
Protect your bottom line
We’re not here to beat around the bush, so we’ll just come right out and say it. Bad writing is a silent cost sucker in the workplace.
You know what they say. Time is money.
Have you ever wondered how much of your staff’s time is going towards understanding poorly written material?
Well, wonder no more!
In his survey The State of Business Writing, Josh Bernoff saw that people in business put almost US$400 billion of national income per year towards this very task.
With clearer, simpler writing, you will be able to make the most of your staff’s productivity for the hours they’re paid for.
Bottom lines rejoice!
Connect with your customers
Contrary to popular belief, readable, simple writing does not mean the absence of style.
Plain language opens you up to the possibility of using a friendlier tone, which helps you build rapport.
Customers and clients are more likely to invest in your brand when you’ve invested in your relationship with them. It’s a two-way street.
This is the type of thing that can distinguish you from your competitors. You’d rather be easy-to-deal-with and relatable, than complex and confusing, right?
By prioritising your connection with your customers, you will have them coming back to you for your services again. And again.
All for one and one for all
Did you know that in Australia, about 44% of adults read at a literacy level of 1 to 2?
What does that mean, you ask?
Level 1 refers to a reading level of pre-year 1 to year 6 at school. And level 2 includes year 7 to year 10.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But our customers are sophisticated and educated – they prefer formal and fancy.”
Ready for a truth bomb? No, they don’t.
In fact, the busier, more senior a person is, the more they appreciate simplicity in their communications.
So pause the puffspeak! Start presenting your brand in an accessible, inclusive and considerate way.
Need help incorporating plain English into your business? Get in touch!