If your clients can’t understand you, you need this simple hack

Do these 3 things before you publish that brochure, web copy or business letter

When you write for your clients or colleagues, it’s sometimes hard to see the document from their point of view. I get it.

  • You’re busy.
  • You think what you’re writing is well explained.
  • And no-one’s complained about your writing before.

Everything. Must. Be. Okay.

Yeah, nah. That’s not what’s happening.

People don’t want to feel dumb

Most clients and colleagues won’t admit when they don’t understand something. They will either pretend they understand or use other sources of information to find the answers they’re after…patients consulting Doctor Google, anyone?

So, before you hit ‘publish’ on that brochure, email or business letter, do these three things:

  1. Limit jargon
  2. Use images
  3. Define your document’s purpose

Limit Jargon

Jargon is fine when you’re talking to other experts. It’s actually a great ‘shorthand’ for them, but most people won’t understand it. So, check you’re not using jargon excessively.

The 12-year-old test

One way to think about the technical terms you’re using is to ask yourself, Would a twelve-year-old understand this?  Could they work out the meaning from the context?

University challenge?

Think about this another way. If you were in the third year of your undergraduate degree when you first came across the word, do you think the average person without your qualifications will understand the term? Chances are most of your clients will not be familiar with it. In that case, you may need to use simpler terms when you write for your clients.

Spell it out

Another way to make jargon understandable is to give a definition of the word the first time you use it. That way, if your clients don’t know or forget what it means, they can go back and read the definition.

Use images

When you use images to support your words, the result is greater understanding.

Instead of a brochure that only uses the word ‘atherosclerosis’, it’s more effective to show an image of a clogged artery. The meaning is clearer and the need for the jargon disappears.

Define your document’s purpose

When you think about the reason for the document, writing for your clients becomes easier.

  • Are you giving general information about your industry?
  • Are you detailing what you will deliver?
  • Are you asking for a sale?
  • Do you want them to book a consultation?

Knowing what you want the reader to do after they read the document will help you stay on track.

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