SPEAKERS OF CLARITY: PART ONE

SELECTED OVERVIEW OF PRESENTERS FROM THE CLARITY 2016 CONFERENCE

PART ONE

I recently attended my first Plain Language conference – the Clarity International conference in Wellington NZ. Of course the speakers at the Clarity 2016 conference were the key drawcard and highlight.

In this edition I look at presentations by:

  • Hannah Morgan Stone, Utilities Disputes
  • Anniken Williamson, Agency for Public Management & eGovernment
  • Caitlin Whiteman, Elemental Communications
  • Joseph Kimble
The speakers of clarity Credit Verity White

The speakers of clarity
Credit Verity White

If you are after an impression of the conference as a whole, check out this post: My First Plain Language Conference.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘OVERVIEW’?

Below I quickly run through a selection of the presentations and speed learning sessions I attended and give you:

  • Points to live by: Key takeaways for each preso which really intrigued or impacted on me.
  • Link it up: Contact points for each speaker and references to related material.

Hannah Morgan Stone, Utilities Disputes

Plain to all: Using logic to distill complex thinking into clear documents

One of my favourite presentations of the conference, Hannah’s presentation at a concurrent session blew the room away. Everyone was so intrigued, furiously writing down notes and enthusiastically participating in the ‘Storylining’ exercise to resolve a fictitious dispute.

This session really hit home for me. I realised structure was a massive deficiency in my own writing and dispute resolution work.

Storylining with Hannah Morgan-Stone Credit: Verity White

Storylining with Hannah Morgan-Stone
Credit: Verity White

Points to live by…

  • Words are important, structure is essential
  • Everyone (mostly me) needs to do more to understand logic and deductive reasoning.
  • Think about what you write before you write it (an oldie but a goodie).
  • Conclusions that are a mix of fact finding and opinions are confusing.

Link it up…

Utilities Disputes website: http://www.utilitiesdisputes.co.nz/

I love that Hannah’s organisation Plain Language-ed its name…. from The Office of the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner to Utilities Disputes. Perfect!

Hannah on LinkedIn


Anniken Williamson, Agency for Public Management & eGovernment

Can and should we measure the results of plain language work?

Anniken introduced massive changes across Norway and outlined a framework for introducing consistent change across an organisation. This project was called Klarsprak (plain language).

I really liked her concept of ‘catching a time thief‘. This phrase means keeping an eye out for people, processes, documents that rob us of our precious time. I’ve used this to explain trimming down text – I’ve removed a few time thieves!

The three question method for figuring out what metrics to use….

  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. What do we want to achieve?
  3. How do we measure that?
Measuring Plain Language Impacts with Anniken Willumsen Credit: Verity White

Measuring Plain Language Impacts with Anniken Willumsen (Credit: Verity White)

Points to live by….

  • Look out for (and catch) “time thieves”: What is stealing time from you, customers &/or internal team members?
  • What should we be measuring? Ask.. what do you have to report on? Take those measures to improve and look at
  • Actually watch people use and test the documents

Link it up…


Caitlin Whiteman, Elemental Communications

Consumers and plain language Plain Language and Policy

I was already expecting awesome things from this power lifting former Research & Policy Advocate. It was great to see someone from the 7% of conference goers under the age of 35 presenting (estimate, I would love to see the actual numbers though!).

Caitlin’s presentation was a breath of fresh air for the weary Day 2 crowd. Caitlin’s slides could have slotted right into a TED-talk line up and not looked out of place.

Caitlin Whiteman explains consumer policy trends and the impacts on plain language (Credit: Verity White)

Caitlin Whiteman explains consumer policy trends and the impacts on plain language (Credit: Verity White)

Allow me to digress about presentation slides…. Feel free to skip ahead…

Comparatively, many other speakers used the “business 90s” style of PowerPoint slides. You know the kind… each slide has the title of presentation title or the conference name as if you forgot where you are, a heading, a sub-heading, some truly unmemorable clip art and 5 dot points. Business 90s presentations experienced a bit of a revival at Clarity 2016.

I understand many presenters are academics. I understand presenting results of studies has a format of its own. However, if presenters fail to take note of the modern tools of presenting, many speakers may find it increasingly difficult to create impact with their work.

Rant over.

Cailtin provided useful insights into consumer policy and plain language. Many of the ‘old guard’ in Plain Language circles would do well to heed Caitlin’s advice on considering consumer policy trends.

I would be interested in a follow up paper or presentation which elaborated on from her last slide about interacting with consumers. In a ‘to be continued’ way, Caitlin outlined briefly the importance of:

  • Orienting
  • Connecting
  • Filtering
  • Comparing

Points to live by….

Markets are eating everything.

Link it up…


Professor Joseph Kimble

No, the law does not normally require legalese

Professor Joseph Kimble is “the man” of plain english writing. Joseph presented via video link however the electronic distance did not diminish his passion or expertise on the subject of ‘There’s no excuse for legalese’.

Prof Kimble's video presentation 'No, the law does not normally require legalese'

Front cover of the notes for Joseph’s video presentation ‘No, the law does not normally require legalese

However, the handouts were a little old fashioned. For example, page numbers were hand written (!) on a printed copy of the notes and then the handouts were photocopied. Bless!

Having said that, the notes themselves were interesting and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the main demographics of the audience, provided in extremely large print.

Prof Kimble's video presentation 'No, the law does not normally require legalese'

Prof Kimble’s video presentation ‘No, the law does not normally require legalese’ (Credit: Verity White)

Points to live by….

  • Don’t be lured by ‘the pseudo precision of legalese – challenge lawyers when they push for a specific (& legally confusing) legal term
  • Swap out the word ‘indemnify’ with ‘pay for’ (magic!)
  • Swap out ‘joint and several liability’ with ‘together and separately

Link it up…


 

Link city

» Photos from the conference by Alan Raga Photography

» Conference website, including videos of all main speaker presentations

» PLAIN Conference Austria 2017

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