What is PLAIN English? And why should we all LEARN it?


(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1N0PWCx)

For those of us who are native English speakers, the whole concept of speaking English or proper English is no big deal, but the truth is that for most who have to give a presentation or present a piece of writing, everything we ever learned about communication ends up in the rubbish bin. Why? Because as soon as we feel we are being evaluated on how well we communicate we start to over analyse our language and as a result a crisis occurs.

The crisis is commonly known as either ‘verbal diarrhea’  or ‘pretentious spouting-forth’…(I just made up the second one because I couldn’t think of any other way of describing it.) But what I am trying to get at is that we are very unaware of what we do actually know and what it is that people really need to hear.

So there was a movement about 10 years ago where the teaching of English had a small shift to the teaching of ‘plain’ English to native English speakers.

This new tangent of English had a very successful spurt of growth as native English business people and speakers raced to learn not only the correct grammatical usages for certain situations but also the resurgence of making simple uncomplicated sentences that say what you mean, and mean what you say.

So what exactly does ‘plain’ English do?

Google describes it as”

Plain English is presenting information so that in a single reading, the intended audience can read, understand and act upon it. Plain English means writing with the audience in mind and presenting information clearly and accurately.

When people are taken out of their comfort zone, all kinds of things happen to their language, and when the objective is to communicate the person tends to focus on their own words and voice when they are speaking and what happens is that the sentences become too long and the words too big until eventually the person at the other end either checks out or becomes confused.

What we always need to remember is that if we can say something in a simple way, it needs to be said that way. The other thing that we need to remember is that the words are only the vehicles in which our thoughts are delivered, so if the words are asked to stand alone without any thought behind it, the communication is meaningless.

What are the key components of PLAIN English?

  1. Short direct sentences.
  2. Limited adjectives.
  3. Writing for a 12 year old vocabulary.
  4. Limited technical language
  5. Information presented in bite sizes.

One thing we forget when we hear a great speaker is that it is not the words they are saying that tells the story, it is what is in the heart of the speaker.

This is the most difficult part for a new speaker because it is the exposure of the heart that is the challenge, as you have to become both ‘confident and vulnerable’ at the same time.

I just think of it in another way. Imagine you are having fun, your communication is usually simple, direct and confident.

Just imagine it that way, even if you are trying to tell a simple serious story.

Any other ideas?

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