We often bang on about the importance of plain language in business, ranting against jargon, management-speak and legalese, especially in financial services – and even more especially after the Hayne Report.
If financial services executives are to persuasively explain the benefits of their services and products (and convince the community about changes made in their conduct and business practices post Hayne) they need to improve their presentation and writing skills.
Even with some 50 years’ communication experience between us, Leeanne and I still look out for books that can help. It helps us maintain our edge.
Many of the books on writing and communication are heavy going, making writing seem difficult when it isn’t. Indeed, the simpler the writing the better, in books as well as in the workplace.
Anyone looking for a primer that is easy to read and packed with good advice, should get Charlie Corbett’s book, “The Art of Plain Speaking: How to Write and Speak in a way that will impress the people that matter”. For the financial services industry at the moment, that’s just about everyone.
Charlie would be known to many senior financial services executives from his days as a journalist writing on the industry when he was in Australia from 2005 to 2008. Since then he has worked on leading UK papers and become a corporate adviser.
One of the key points in Charlie’s book is one we’ve been making for a while – avoid buzz words and trendy expressions. And use only the words that are necessary. Charlie identifies a number of words that are ugly, unnecessary, or are simply used to make the writer feel good. One example is the word “announcement” used at the start of a media release – for example “We are delighted to announce the appointment of so-and-so”.
We have always argued that release itself is the announcement, so using “announce” again is superfluous. And “delighted” can get deleted as well. Of course you’re delighted. You’re hardly going to say “We’re disappointed with the appointment of Fred Smith but our first choice turned us down”.
“Company-name has appointed Fred Smith as etc.” is much cleaner, to the point, and easier for any journalist to use.
The book will help everyone wanting to improve their writing and presentation skills – more examples later.