We often want to embrace our personal creative voice in our writing using intellectual four-syllable words, our favorite clichés and aphorisms, and various cultural references. However, when writing for a global audience, we must be aware of who our audience is, and focus on simplicity and clarity in our messages.
When addressing a multi-cultural audience, sensitivity is key. People reading our messages may not be native English speakers and some communications could be translated into other languages. Each culture has its own set of common clichés specific to its language and history, so do not expect non-English speakers to understand every English phrase. Instead, take time to consider your writing style, and your word selection for the global audience:
Keep the language simple.
- Limit the use of figurative language, idioms, slang and colloquialisms. It is often wise to delete them entirely.
- Don’t try to be clever. A creatively written phrase in English may fall flat when translated into other languages. Those who speak English as a second language may misunderstand it.
- Use words that have a single or concise meaning. Don’t be afraid to use one word multiple times if it is the best choice.
Make your purpose clear.
- Ensure that your ideas have a logical flow that is easy to follow. Create an outline, even for shorter pieces.
- Use short sentences to support your communication’s purpose. Set a goal, for example, of less than 20 words per sentence.
Remember that “simple and clear” doesn’t mean boring. Sometimes, you may need multiple rewrites to ensure that your messages are clear but still interesting. Through practice, and scrutiny of your style and word selection, you can become a better global communicator.
Author: Rebecca Shindel