Communication trends for 2019 strongly focus on visuals and clear communication. These are both key components of the plain language process. Committing to integrating clear visuals with plain text will help you succeed in meeting these new directions and your clients’ needs. Whether it’s headings, graphics or videos, 2019 is the year to use visuals to get your message across.
Put people first
HR Trend Institutecites 2019 as the year for more listening and less messaging; more talking to each other; improved personalization; increased ability to act quickly; and, more visuals, less text. The focus is on connecting better with people and plain language puts people first.
Help readers skim
Skimming is how today’s readers absorb information—in print and online. Previously, it was primarily the style of online readers only. Check that your information provides visual cues to help readers find and re-find information easily and quickly, regardless of the media. Make this part of your 2019 plain language checklist.
Integrate clear visuals
Plain language writing and editing are well-established processes for helping clients understand. However, ensuring visuals, design and layout contribute to clear information—in print and online—can be challenging.
Michelle Boulton, Clear Communication Strategist at 3cpublications.ca, specializes in this field and shares advice.
In documents, visuals are often the elements that draw a reader in and make information easy to understand. Most people remember only 10% of what they hear and 30% of what they read, but about 80% of what they see. So, the combined use of visuals and text is said to be six times more effective than the use of text-based communication alone.
Visuals can express ideas and convey information in ways that words alone cannot. They communicate by:
Get a clear picture of your audience’s needs. Use the power of visuals and text working together to send out clearer messages. Make 2019 your year to put people first.
Thanks Michelle. 3cpublications.ca
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Check out Clear Design Practices with Flora Gordon.
Plain language reaches across all languages, all sectors and all tasks. But, in this Forbes magazine article by Kate Harrison (not me), the link between virtual communication and clear emotions points out another dimension of plain language.
Virtual communication's emotional side effects
Kate’s article is a review of Nick Morgan’s new book, Can You Hear Me?: How to Connect with People in a Virtual World looking at the conflict between our volume of virtual communication and increase in feelings of isolation and even depression. This less than satisfactory communication does not meet the plain language focus on audience awareness. So, what’s the cure?
Know your audience
Communicating clearly involves body language, not just words and pictures. As conference calls, webinars and smartphone video calls increase in popularity, we need to increase our audience awareness, a key part of the plain language process. We need to keep our emotional language clear. We need to integrate empathy. It’s all about humanizing the technology we rely on.
Being an empathetic communicator
Author Nick Morgan recommends storytelling as a great cure for this problem.
exTalks article Incredible Tips for Effective Online Communication recommends using personas that communicate empathy and competence.
In their zendesk relate post, Leaders, use empathetic language when talking to remote workers, Sarah Stealey and Rebecca Huval examine how to manage technology and talking virtually.
Empathy Business CEO Belinda Parmar says empathy is what today’s leaders and organizations need to survive.
The Centre for Plain Language identified this issue some time ago in their Empathy: The Forgotten Element in Successful Plain Language Communicationarticle by Deborah S. Bosley. She reminds us of the plain language focus on understanding and being understood.
Put empathy on your plain language checklist
So, the next time you are communicating via technology and want to achieve clear or plain language, check that empathy is on your list.
Take the PlainLanguageAcademy.com Audience Awareness course. Starts Feb 1 and May 1. Sign up now.
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