How to win business and influence people: write in plain language - Deepstash

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How to win business and influence people: write in plain language

How to win business and influence people: write in plain language


268 reads

  • We write to share a message. To sell a product. A service. An idea.
  • Unclear messages mean you lose the opportunity to connect
  • It means you exclude people. You piss them off. And you lose out. It could mean a lost follower. A lost sale. A lost event participant.
  • Resear...

  • US federal agencies must write plainly according to the Plain Writing Act of 2010 — so the public can easily understand and use the information.
  • England’s Parliament passed a Clearer Timeshare Act in 1993 to encourage plain language for the legal profession.

Plain languag...

Writing in simple, clear language helps us whether we’re sighted, blind, or have a cognitive disability. When we:

  • Need to book a vaccination online.
  • Shop online late at night after a long day.
  • Want to buy a property and need to understand the conditions.
  • Walk ar...

  • We’ve been conditioned to write with complex words and walls of text in school.
  • We were encouraged to learn bigger, harder words at school. Snazzy words and long paragraphs made our essays and exam answers sound impressive.
  • Perhaps we’ve scored interviews with swanky applicat...

You might be reading this on an iPhone. Apple products are so damn easy to use, aren’t they?

But you might not realize the effort behind them.

It takes more effort and time to write simply.

Yet we can all create a better experience for our readers by using plain language.

The Myth most of us believe in:

‘My target readers are professionals with higher education.’

The Truth:

  • Writing simply isn’t about education or ego.
  • Our readers are bombarded with content from all directions, every day. They choose to spend mental energy on some tas...

  • It is possible to express legal concepts in plain language
  • Plain language saves money
  • Judges prefer plain language
  • The public prefers plain language

Key takeaway: College-educated professionals and experts appreciate plain language.

  • In Lower Literacy Users: Writing for a Broad Consumer Audience, Nielsen Norman Group recommends we write at a grade 6 level on homepages. And a grade 8 level on other web pages.
  • This is consistent with the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) recommendation:
  • Write text for a lower...

Have you ever read a website’s terms and conditions? A privacy policy? Or a legal document? These documents are known for being ridiculously tedious and so damn hard to understand.

Don’t make me think!

Usability expert Norman Nielson Group ran research on how user...

A great way to start writing plainly is to use simple words instead of complex words.

Example of simple word replacements

Instead of:

  • Prohibit: use ‘ban’
  • Communicate: use ‘tell us’, ‘let us know’
  • Demonstrate: use ‘show’
  • Diversity: use ‘range’

Cutting long sentences is a simple way to improve readability. It’s easier to digest it on mobile too. Yet many people don’t bother.

Usability expert Nielson Norman Group recommends we:

  • Spell out abbreviations, initialisms, and acronyms.
  • Immediately include their abbreviation in the first instance.

This is helpful for all users including people who use a screen reader.


Your readers — your prospects — are busy. They read in a range of situations. On a range of devices.

They don’t have time for big words, walls of text, and acronyms they have to rack their brains to figure out.

You respect their time when you use plain language. You make it easy for t...

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