I’m gearing up for Vancouver’s PLAIN2013 conference in October, and getting a bit excited. All the speakers have been asked to answer three questions for the conference blog:
OK, it's a well-known fact among my friends that I (Rachel) am going to the Frankfurt Book Fair. (Along with 280,000 others.) My excuse: New Zealand is the Guest of Honour and my excellent, outstanding, frivolous book Scarlet Heels: 26 Stories About Sex is in the New Zealand Society of Authors' catalogue.
What's my strategy? It's been slippery but finally, two weeks before the event, I'm getting my head straight.
Tomorrow at 4 AM I’ll get in a taxi and set off for two conferences in Australia. I started writing down some realistic aims to remind myself what I hope to gain from this expensive exercise. In the end, it’s all up to me: as usual, what you give is what you get.
I admit, some conference programmes are intrinsically boring. But on the whole, conferences are people, and people are certainly not boring. So the more prepared you are to learn and have fun, the more benefit you reap.
As a short-sighted face-blind introvert with some hearing loss, I’m slightly handicapped at big social events, and networking is a difficult exercise for me. Maybe that’s why it helps me to spell out these tips. They’re not just for you: they’re for me!
The truth is I don’t go to conferences for fun—and yet I usually enjoy them tremendously. You can too.
Plain English is, by definition, clear to the intended reader. This clarity has a positive impact on efficiency, productivity and customer relations. Famously, plain English also saves money for the organizations with a plain English culture—often hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Given the facts, you'd think every organization in the world would be keen to promote plain language in all their internal and external communications. Not so: I'm afraid plain English is the opposite of sexy. The very phrase 'plain English' suggests something dowdy and dull.
The average person, if quizzed about the meaning, imagines plain English means dumbing down into words of one syllable. Plenty consider themselves too smart for plain English.
It can be a lonely old business, a thankless task, promoting the very real benefits of clear writing in government, business, technical documentation and the professions.
To the rescue of the communications Cinderella—the Writemark New Zealand Plain English Awards. These high prestige awards draw attention to excellent writing in the public and private sector.
Three interesting categories:
Enter now. No glass slipper required.
Check out the Contented business writing courses: brilliant online courses for brainy people. You'll be amazed at just how exciting plain English can be.
Image: Cinderella, painted by Sir John Everett Millais