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Keep it simple for effective communication

With 90 per cent of households in Great Britain now online, and 73 per cent of adults accessing the internet on the go through smartphones or other mobile devices, the opportunities offered by developing your digital communications have never been better.

UK consumers aren’t just using the internet for shopping – in 2017, emailing was the most popular internet activity (82% of adults), followed by finding information about goods and services (71% of adults).

As customers use the internet and email more and more, there’s a growing expectation for them to be able to find what they want easily, have information presented in an accessible way and be clear on any actions they need to take.

Catch and hold your readers’ attention

As communicators, we all know that we can quickly lose a reader by making things complicated, using jargon, trying to sound clever or just confounding them.

The best way to catch and hold your readers’ attention is to use simply written copy with plain language that gets to the point and is clear in its messages and calls to action.

This means writing in a simple, clear style, which is appropriate for your readers. It doesn’t mean dumbing down, or writing in a childish way; it just means avoiding overly formal, technical or complicated language.

Top tips for simple, effective writing – both online and off

  • If you find yourself using a word or phrase you wouldn’t normally use in ordinary conversation, chances are it’s too pompous, complex, old-fashioned or technical. Try to find a simpler alternative.
  • Be concise and to the point. Keep your writing punchy with short sentences of around 15 to 25 words.
  • Engage with your reader on a personal level, and be friendly. Use words your readers will be comfortable with. It’s great to be clever, but if your customers don’t understand you or feel patronised, they’ll stop listening.
  • Avoid using jargon or acronyms – and if you absolutely must use them make sure you explain them in simple terms.
  • Think about your readers. Be clear on what you’re trying to say and structure your messages so that they make sense to your audience.

Keeping it simple will mean that not only are your communications faster to write, they are also faster to read and sound more friendly – a win-win-win!

If you’d like to know more, I’m going to be at Granicus’ public sector engagement day in Leeds on 19 June and will be leading a session on the power of keeping it simple. Tickets are free. It would be great to see you there.

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