The Value of Simplicity
More than 30 years later, I don’t remember much of what I learned in my college journalism classes, but I do recall this: always write for a 6th grade audience. That seemed absurd at the time, but I’ve come to realize that when it comes to written communication — even for people you believe to be highly educated — simpler is always better with respect to the words you use.
In the business world, you’re typically communicating to get something — a sale, a new project, event sign-ups, etc. What do you think will happen when prospective customers, employers or attendees come across verbiage from you that contains words they don’t understand? They’ll feel stupid, and they might stop reading — and thus not buy something, hire you, or come to your event.
My advice? Write to express, not to impress. You gain nothing from using words that show off your vocabulary; instead of admiration, you’re likely to sabotage yourself.
Here are a few examples of “complex” words and their simpler alternatives. Remember, while you may find some of the words in the left column simple, others may not!
Complex — Simple
advantageous — helpful
ameliorate — improve
commence — start, begin
deleterious — harmful
equitable — fair
expedite — speed up
in lieu of — instead of
parameters — limits
provided that — if
remuneration — payment, reward
utilize — use
In addition to proofing your work for errors before you send or publish it, also check to be sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot by using words some audience members won’t know. Use an online thesaurus to find simpler alternatives if necessary.
As of Oct. 1, I’ll be president of my TEAM Referral Network chapter. I’m a former member of BNI and LeTip, but find this organization to be more my style. It’s similar in many ways, but the differences are enough to keep me involved. The Mission Valley chapter meets every Thursday for lunch at Mimi’s on Mission Center Road. We have an energetic group that passes lots of referrals, but are always looking for new members and have many industry categories available. I invite you to review our website at TEAM and let me know if you’d like to check us out soon by visiting a meeting. If you’re looking for more business, being involved in a good networking group is a great way to get it.
Lights, Camera, Action
Most of you are probably unaware that I have suffered from psoriatic disease in the form of plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis since I was 29. You’ve likely seen commercials for the biologic drugs available to treat this chronic condition, including Stelara, the one that works for me. Later this month, I’ll have the chance to tell my story in a video that will appear on the Stelara website — costarring my almost constant companion, Cubbie. We’ve already had a visit from some of the production team, including the producer and wardrobe/makeup person, and will be shooting scenes at Mission Beach, Balboa Park, and a Hillcrest home staged to make it look like mine. I’ll let you know when the finished product is live.