I spent some time yesterday going through a box of old papers, filing some and recycling the rest.
As I worked my way through the documents, I discovered an old photocopy entitled “Ten Commandments for Plain Language Documents”. It came from the Canadian Bar Association and is dated October 1990.
There’s a lot of wisdom in this little document. As I went through the commandments, it occurred to me that they also apply to public speaking.
Have a look. Substitute “audience” for “reader” in the first commandment, and consider all of them (especially Numbers 2, 9 and 10) not just in terms of speaking but also in terms of any slide presentations that you create.[tweetmeme only_single=false http://www.URL.com]
- Consider your reader and write with that reader’s viewpoint in mind.
- Write short sentences.
- Say what you have to say, and no more.
- Use the active voice.
- Use simple, “everyday” words.
- Use words consistently.
- Avoid strings of synonyms.
- Avoid unnecessary formality.
- Organize your text: (a) in a logical sequence; (b) with informative headings; and (c) with a table of contents for long documents.
- Make the document attractive and designed for easy reading.