Oct 12, 2017

The Brain Will Gain if Mainly in the Plain

Keep your lyrics simple

By Stu Slayen     

I apologize to fans of the famous musical, My Fair Lady, for messing with the popular “Rain in Spain” lyrics, but I couldn’t resist. And there’s method to my madness.

The best business writing is lyrical, memorable, colourful, and plain.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never seen My Fair Lady. Probably never will. Not enough corny jokes or sports scenes for my liking. But somehow, I seem to know the “Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Plain” song. It’s memorable; the lyrics are deliberately crisp and simple. The writers did not pen: “The Precipitation in Spain Resides Predominantly in Large Swathes of Flat, Treeless Landscape.”

The real lyrics stick in the brain – just like great communication from an organization or business.

Plain language is a passion of mine. It’s not always easy to deliver, but it’s always powerful. The purpose of all communications is to persuade. Your words are intended to get someone – or many people – to do something, to think about something, to buy something, to donate to something, or to join something. You therefore want to use words that are easy to read, repeat, and remember. Your audiences will retain your message if you make it easy for them.

Adopting a plain language style can be challenging. It might mean letting go of what you learned from mentors or got used to in university. (Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of breaking a few bad academic writing habits, and maybe even a few academics.)

Remember, you’re not writing to impress your peers. You’re writing to inspire an audience.

Getting into the plain language habit takes time, and maybe some outside support to get you started. If you’re interested in a fun, interactive, and effective plain language presentation for your organization, please let me know.