Despite the triumph of the image, of Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, professionals still must write clearly. One reason is because it produces immediate benefits for readers whose needs can’t be addressed by a video:
Most professional communities create and use processes that are based on research, analysis, recommendations, assessment, decision, compliance and communication. These stages work best, individually and collectively, when underlying tasking, information and guidelines are accurately communicated.
Writing that put jargon and extravagance over clarity leads to corrupted content. This reduces comprehension and engagement. It’s hard for us to commit to a proposal, or promote a plan or a person if we don’t understand it in the first place.
More specifically, imprecise and wordy writing can lead to:
Often organisation must also record decision making processes and responsibilities, especially in the public sector. Whiteboards and colour-coded spreadsheets are no substitute for a clearly written audit trail.
Leadership is important here.
Managers must place a premium on clarity. Lead by example; set standards; put a premium on the skills of clear writing.
When conducting performance evaluations, map performance against relevant standards such as the ‘Communicates with influence’ standard specified by the Australian Public Service Commission.
Provide training and recognise outstanding work – and documents.
Finally, clear writing is just a more influential version of how we write now. Like any skill, it requires understanding, practice, discipline and more practice.
It’s a good thing that for many public service professionals, writing is something we do every day and we have plenty of opportunities to practise good practice. Simply, by shortening sentences, following the style guide and deleting jargon we can produce clearer content.
We can all make gains, no matter how small the first steps may be.
And to misquote Gary Player, the more we practise, the clearer we’ll get.