Why clear and simple language matters

Living in a country that speaks another language (and many dialects) is a humbling experience.

It has also led me to think about how we communicate in English as writers.
Are we as clear as we can be? Do we write assuming everyone can understand? Can we do better?
I say yes — especially when writing for an international audience or global clients.

Not everyone is a native English speaker

English might be the business language of the world but it doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s native language. Or even a second language they are completely fluent in.

So, by being more considerate when we write, we can actually make our work more accessible to a wider audience.

The key to this is to use clear and simple language — whether writing a website page, an article or a tone of voice guide.

Here’s how.

Go for simple, not complex

A quick and easy way to transform a piece of writing is to swap complex or formal words for a simpler alternative.

Like these examples:

Then check the text for slang words, regional phrases or unnecessary jargon.
For example, writing about making a brew (a cup of tea) might work for a UK audience. But if the target market is more global it will probably get lost in translation.
The same applies to a phrase like “budgie smugglers” (Australian slang for men’s swimming trunks). It might sound funny but if half of your readers don’t know what it is, they will just feel left out.

Finally, check the copy for long sentences. Shorter is usually better when writing to be inclusive.

Don’t overthink it

These are not strict writing rules and there are times when complex language, or even dialect, is needed. The same applies to slang and cultural phrases.
But more often than not, the message just needs to be clear and simple.

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