Plain language is a skill. It’s about so much more than just choosing the right words. Presenting information clearly, concisely and in an engaging way is an art form. And one not consigned to a particular industry or type of communication.
From websites to annual reports, insurance documents to technical reports and a whole host of comms products in between there is a recognised need for all communications to be more accessible, more digestible, and quite frankly more interesting to read.
With the Plain Language Act 2022 coming into force in April writing clearly and concisely is top of mind for many organisations. Across the public service, we now have dedicated Plain Language Champions.
So, if you’re one of them and want a bit of a boost and some tips on how to bring others along with you then join us to hear from the latest Plain Language Award winners and plain language champion Lynda Harris for this lunchtime webinar hosted by the Central PRINZ Committee.
Lynda Harris, Founder and Chief Executive of Write
Lynda is a communications specialist who believes that plain language makes the world a better place. Supported by her like-minded team, she’s built a company that aims to put clarity and connection at the heart of every business communication.
Lynda believes that clear communication isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have.’ It’s essential to the smooth and successful operation of any organisation. Poor writing wastes time and money, but it also risks losing the trust of customers. Under Lynda’s leadership, Write has become the largest plain language consultancy in the world.
Phil Belcher, Product Manager, Life & Disability Insurance for the Medical Assurance Society
Plain Language Champion
It was a pleasant surprise for Phil to take out this award after his teammates nominated him for his significant and influential contribution to their plain language initiative. Taking a digital design concept to a traditionally print focused medium he helped turn several lengthy and jargon filled documents into one single one that is easy to navigate, relatable and readable.
Alice Moloney, Senior Advisor – Safety and Stability, Family Violence at the Ministry of Social Development
Plain Language Website (Public Sector)
Judges described www.areyouok.org.nz as an excellent example of effective plain language writing and information design. They praised the tone for being reassuring, caring and helpful, as well as being clear and non-judgemental. User testing helped to gauge feedback to make improvements and ensure that victim/survivors voices remained at the heart of this kaupapa to make sure the language, tone and content of the site was right. The team also worked with family violence support providers to make sure information was accessible and relevant for different communities.
Kate Thompson, Head of Communications at thinkstep-anz
Best Plain Language Annual Report
Best Plain Language Document — Private Sector
Best Plain Language Technical Communicator
Kate is Head of Communications at trans-Tasman sustainability firm thinkstep-anz. She leads a team of plain language experts who ‘translate’ the company’s technical sustainability work into plain English executive summaries, case studies, and blogs that clients can understand and act on.
Judges praised the work by thinkstep-anz for their simplicity, use of plain language, supportive graphics, excellent design, and tone. The conversational style is described as engaging and honest, bringing a human element to each communication. All of this whilst still coming across as professional subject-matter experts.
Toni Raeliegh, Product Specialist, AA Insurance
Plain Language Champion – Best Organisation
AA is proud to champion the use of plain language by simplifying its insurance policies, so they are easy to read, understand and act on, to help earn the trust of their customers. The organisation also says that plain language helps to put the customer at the heart of everything they do. This has been supported by user-testing which shows positive feedback from customers. More importantly, growing customer numbers year on year demonstrate the business benefits of plain language in inspiring trust and customer loyalty.