Excerpt from Successfully Integrating Plain Language — How Literacy, Essential Skills, Communications and Training Professionals Use Plain Language Panel
Presented at PLAIN2013 Conference, Vancouver, BC
See full presentation and others from PLAIN2013 at SlideShare.net/plain2013conf
By Kate Harrison Whiteside, Key Advice
Panel Chair and Presenter
I can confidently say we have 'come a long way' in the field of plain language over the last 20 years. But, we need to take plain language to the next level. It is at a pivotal point and with the global energy from this Conference, I hope to see it gain even more power through integration.
Plain language is gaining strength as it builds partnerships:
· across sectors,
· across government levels,
· across the globe.
Plain language often gets hidden in the complex function that is communications – especially in today's
· changing and
· challenging technological environment.
We have made great strides – it is recognized, organizations are asking how do I do it (not what is it).
· How do we keep this exciting momentum going?
· How do we make sure plain language is built into all agendas?
· How do we promote the power of plain language – and get heard?
The answer is simple – integration.
Amanda Lang - The Power of Why: Simple Questions that Lead to Success.
I was quite inspired by Canadian CBC business correspondent Amanda Lang's book: The Power of Why: Simple Questions that Lead to Success.
Lang says innovation is all about making small, but important, changes that improve existing things – it's not about being an inventor.
Lang also goes on to say innovation is really about common sense.
I'm seeing plain language here.
Richard Branson, Virgin
My entrepreneurial hero, Virgin's, Richard Brandson, has broken down many business barriers, and achieved huge success.
In a recent column he wrote in Canadian Business Magazine on the dire state of today's organinizational mission statements, Richard pleads with writers to create a simple, say it once, 'motto' – instead of a mantra.
He challenges his readers to try the Twitter 140 character rule when writing a mission statement!
Only plain language can help you achieve such greatness!
Plain language advocates are embracing social media to connect and share ideas and success stories – and discuss best practices in the best way possible – online.
Cheryl's LinkedIn Plain Language Advocates members and PLAIN's Forum members are busy sharing and questioning. Hash tag 'plain language' in Twitter. This is not idle chitchat. These are professionals sharing ideas, moving plain langauge forward, sharing best practice, integrating it with social media platforms for global impact.
Three Keys to Success
Over the last two decades I have worked on variety of plain language projects.
· a pan-European educational website
· a newspaper advert explaining property taxes
· a provincial driver's handbook
· a municipality strategic plan.
These projects all had plain language practices in common. And, as I grew with plain language, three keys to success kept re-surfacing:
The three keys are:
1. always work with a cross-organizational team – strength in numbers
2. include a training component – share the wealth
3. encourage investment in user testing – user feedback speaks volumes.
Combine these three strategies – and you will find integration – and your project – are more successful.
Panel speakers: Cindy Messaros, AWES; Terri Peters, tlp consulting; Diana Twiss, Decoda Literacy Solutions. Read what people had to say on the PLAIN2013 blog.
Kate Harrison Whiteside has over 25 years experience in plain language, writing/editing, training and consulting.