Use your superpowers and spread the word about plain language | Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash
Lynda Harris, Write and WriteMark CEO and Awards founder, spoke at the Plain English Awards ceremony on 14 October 2021. Here is her introduction to the premier award of Plain English Champion — Best Organisation. The Champion category is sponsored by Write Limited.
So here we are in the middle of the Champion category with all this suspense before we announce the premier Award! For that reason I have been told to be very brief!
It’s no secret that the Champion category is my favourite. Not only because it honours such wonderful people and projects, but because the concept of being a Champion is absolutely inherent in the whole concept of the Awards.
Even though as a country we are so much better at plain language now, we still need to push for it. And the people who do the pushing, inspiring, and advocating are the champions. When you’re persuading a manager or a senior leader that clarity and connection is worth the time and effort, you’re being a champion. When you’re writing a business case for a plain language makeover, you’re being a champion. If you’re at this ceremony, you’re a champion.
So to all you champions, thank you!
Use your superpowers to make the world a better place
Years ago in 2007 we made a little animated video about a superhero who had P on his cape. That was P for PLAIN. Our PLAIN superhero swooped around workplaces converting people into superheros. Lots of plain language champions, in other words. It was a bit corny to be fair, but I often think that as plain language advocates and champions we are wearing a metaphorical superhero outfit.
I actually asked Google the defining qualities of a superhero and it helpfully told me that they were super strength, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, super speed, super intelligence, and super gadgets.
Well, you can take from that what you will. But the best bit that rings true is that they typically use their powers to help the world become a better place.
You are already using your superpowers to do just that. But maybe you never thought of it that way. Whether you’re a bold visionary, a passionate campaigner, or a quiet doer, you have qualities that the world needs more of. You have stories to tell about people who need clarity and connection. And you have the skills to inspire others to be champions like you.
So please take stock of your superpowers, don that cape, gather others around you, and continue to champion the cause for human-centred writing. Write’s slogan is ‘using the power of words for good’. Together we are all doing just that.
Congratulations to the winners of the Best Organisation Award!
Read about the winners of the Champion Best Organisation Award
Posted In: 2021 Awards ceremony, 2021 Plain English Awards
2021 Plain English Awards, Best Organisation, Champion, clear communication, power of plain English
It’s time to celebrate! | Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
With preparations for our cyber-ceremony in full swing, you can now register your place to attend.
Register for the 2021 Plain English Awards ceremony
What you can look forward to at this year’s event
This year, for the first time, we’re running our celebrations online. While we’ll miss celebrating with people in person, our aim is to make this year’s event super special in its own way.
Our MC James Elliott is bound to delight
Now in his fifth year as MC of the Awards, lawyer and comedian James Elliott is a firm highlight at our ceremonies. James is back this year and guaranteed to entertain.
Find out more about James
Bring your supporters along — we can host more people online
With no limits to seat numbers, we’d love you to invite as many of your supporters to join you at the ceremony as possible. In the past, we’ve often had to limit spaces to 150 people — but that’s not a problem this year!
Our overseas entrants and supporters can easily join us
We’ve always extended an invitation to our ceremony to both our domestic and international supporters. However, often the overseas contingent isn’t able to make it. Happily (and time differences aside), that’s not a problem this year either!
We opened up entries to Australia for the first time this year
Read about our international panel of judges
Celebrate International Plain Language Week at the same time
Our Awards ceremony is right in the middle of International Plain Language Week. This gives you a readymade way to get involved in an international event that celebrates clarity.
So, don’t hang about — register your place at the 2021 Plain English Awards ceremony
Thanks again to our sponsors for their commitment to the (plain language) cause
We have an incredible line-up of sponsors this year. We’d like to thank them all for their support.
Read about this year’s sponsors
Posted In: 2021 Awards ceremony, 2021 Plain English Awards, Australian clear communication awards, Awards ceremony, Communications, Finalists, Judges, People's Choice awards, Plain English Awards
2021 Plain English Awards, Best Plain English Communication, clear communication, Finalists, judges, People's Choice, sponsors, winners
Looking forward to celebrating this year’s winners | Photo by Universal Eye on Unsplash
Our international panels of judges have settled on this year’s finalists.
Find out which entries made the grade
So, what made an entry good enough to become a finalist this year? Here’s a taste of what our judges had to say:
[The writer] is fighting against engrained writing attitudes, including in [their] company, which is quite courageous.
I found the content incredibly compelling. The language, structure and visual devices beautifully enhance this detailed and informative content.
The combination of plain writing and relevant graphics make [this document] a joy to read.
[This document] is an excellent example of keeping anxious people informed on a critical topic.
We’re now counting down to our virtual Awards ceremony on Thursday, 14 October, where we’ll announce and celebrate this year’s winners.
Find out more about our ceremony plans
See who entered the Awards in 2021
Meet our judges
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Finalists
2021 Plain English Awards, Best Organisation, Best Plain English Communication, Brainstrain, Champion, clarity, clear communication, clear writing, judges, recognition
We’ve got lots to celebrate this year! | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Join us to celebrate our finalists and winners at our virtual Awards ceremony on Thursday, 14 October.
Our people are at the heart of what we do
Every year we have more people involved in the Awards than you’d expect. Many of these people are behind the scenes and plenty of them not in the limelight.
We love getting lots of our people together at the end of the Awards season to celebrate our finalists and winners, and promote the benefits of clear communication. Our Awards ceremony usually happens in person, but this year we need to think differently.
We’ll celebrate online for 2021
We knew from the outset that we’d need to think laterally when planning for our 2021 ceremony. So, in place of our in-person event, we’re going to run our Awards ceremony online.
We’ll miss being able to applaud our winners in person. At the same time, we’re excited about the many opportunities running an online ceremony gives us. We definitely won’t have a seat limit in 2021! And we’re going to run the ceremony at a time that works better for some our overseas judges and entrants. A flow-on benefit will be that you’ll be able to join during the day if you’re in New Zealand.
Our Awards ceremony is right in the middle of International Plain Language Week too. So you’ve got a readymade way to get involved in an international event that celebrates clarity.
So come along, grab your friends and supporters, and join us at our online Awards ceremony. We’ll have more details for you soon. For now, make sure you pencil in 11am until 1pm on Thursday, 14 October to celebrate with us!
Oh, and did we say that registrations will be free of charge this year? See you in October!
Who’s in the running for an award in 2021?
Huge thanks to our sponsors, who make the Plain English Awards possible
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Awards ceremony, Communications, Finalists, Judges, People's Choice awards, Plain English Awards, Winners
2021 finalists, 2021 Plain English Awards, 2021 winners, award winners, Awards ceremony, Best Plain English Communication, clear communication, Industry awards, online ceremony, People's Choice Awards, Plain English Awards
Keep sharing your love of plain language with the world | Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels
Now that entries for the 2021 Plain English Awards are closed, our judges are hard at work reviewing all the wonderful entries we received. But that doesn’t mean everything stops until we announce the finalists and then the winners. You can still spread the good word and share your love story for plain language.
Keep the conversation buzzing through our gallery
You can browse our video gallery to hear everyone’s stories about their love for plain language, the journey they went on for their entry, or about a project they’re working on.
Look through our video gallery and hear what others have to say
We’d love to hear your plain language love story — we’re keen to hear from all our local and international plain language companions!
Tell your plain language story in a video
Why not create your own video to share in our gallery? Sometimes the hardest part about making a video is where to begin. Believe me, it’s simpler than you think!
You don’t have to be Peter Jackson and direct the next fantasy epic (although that would be amazing). And we’re not looking for Down Under’s Next Top Video Maker.
You could talk to your phone and record a short video. Or you could create a slideshow or animation with either text or voice-over to tell your story. Or you might interview a colleague. We’ve got all sort of styles and formats in the gallery.
Here are some ideas for topics you might cover in your video.
- What does plain language mean to you?
- Why does plain language matter in your industry?
- How did your customers react when you used plain language in a document?
Check out our guidelines for creating your plain language story
Meet other plain language fans
You’re not alone in your love for plain language! Remember that you have friends all over the world who are passionate about plain language.
Our video gallery features stories from people all over the globe who appreciate all things plain and simple — and you can feature alongside them! So have fun and continue to spread the word about your plain language love story.
Find out who sponsors the Awards and loves plain language as much as you
Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on Awards news
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Story theme
clarity, clear communication, improved writing, plain language culture, Plain language story, Story, transformation, video story
The next step in the Awards process is for our judges to do their jobs as they work towards deciding on this year’s finalists and winners | Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash
Entries for the 2021 Plain English Awards have now closed. But that doesn’t mean things have come to a standstill! Quite the opposite, in fact.
Our judges now get to work
We use an online platform called Submittable to accept entries. Submittable is also the place where our judges review each of these entries. Judging is broken down into several different phases as the judges work their way towards agreeing on a shortlist, finalists, and eventually a category winner.
Read about our fabulous judges
Read about the judging process
When you’ll next hear about entries
Good judging takes time. And given that our panels are made up of experts around the world as well as around New Zealand, our judges have the added ‘hurdle’ of communicating across different time zones.
Once our judges do come to agreement, we’ll publicise their shortlist decisions. Judges will then continue their deliberations and we’ll announce this year’s finalists on Thursday, 16 September. And the big announcement — this year’s Plain English Awards winners — will be made on Thursday, 14 October by our media partner, Newsroom.
To add to these broadcasts, our Awards ambassador, Shelly Davies, will talk about our winning entries on nationwide television in the days after the big announcement.
Thanks for your interest in the 2021 Plain English Awards. You’ll be hearing from us again soon. In the meantime, check out the videos in our gallery and share your plain language story!
How you can keep up-to-date
As always, we’ll continue to publish Awards updates in our website blog. You’ll also be able to keep up-to-date through our social media platforms and our newsletter.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to our newsletter.
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Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Finalists, Judges, Plain English Awards, Shortlists, Winners
2021 finalists, 2021 Plain English Awards, 2021 shortlists, 2021 winners, clear communication, judges
Is your annual report awesome? Does it tell your story well? | Photo by Aneta Pawlik on Unsplash
Annual report. Those two little words often conjure up other words like ‘dull’, ‘heavy’, and even ‘eyes glaze over’. But not always! In selecting the best of the best, our Awards judges tend to use very different and much more positive words to describe winning entries. Words like ‘engaging’, ‘compelling’ and ‘impressive’.
So what does it take to get such accolades? Almost every winning entry over many years has inspired the judges to comment on the story told in the report. Here’s a great example from their comments on the Ryman Healthcare Annual Report 2018.
‘a strong example of how a company can take complex information and share the details both with clarity and with compelling storytelling’
‘The report tells an extremely engaging story that would undoubtedly appeal to a general reader.’
Why story? It’s easy to present data without joining the dots for readers. Stories carry messages and deliver information beyond mere numbers and facts. They answer the questions ‘so what?’ and ‘why should I care?’ Stories raise oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ hormone — we’re interested and engaged and we want more.
So if you’re proud of the story told in your annual report, yours could be the one our judges rave about this year!
Check the features of an awesome annual report below to see how yours measures up. And don’t be modest!
A checklist for Annual Report Awesomeness
|Check that your annual report:
| Yes, it's good to go!
|No, it needs more work
|Tells an engaging and compelling story about relevant events, context, and trends
|Is structured with the reader’s needs front and centre
|Expresses complex information clearly and thoughtfully
|Reports technical details and data in a way that keeps the reader’s attention
|Uses an attractive design that helps tell the story
|Is accessible to all intended audiences
|Is memorable for all the right reasons (yes, it’s still about the story!)
Read the entry criteria for Best Plain English Annual Report
Meet the judges for Best Plain English Annual Report
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Annual report
accountability, annual report, Best Annual Report, clear communication, transparency
Which do you choose? Nominate the good and the bad for the People’s Choice | Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
Have you ever found a document so challenging to read that you had to call on a mate for help? Or have you found a document so surprisingly easy to read that the stress lines of those furrowed brows just disappeared in a flash?
You have the power to tell the world what you want from anything you read — and plain is the way to go! And the two People’s Choice categories can help you and others choose plain over waffle.
Fight the good fight and show what’s right
Imagine a world where your insurance documents, legal contracts, application forms, and other important pieces of information are clear and easy to read. The more that we all speak up and demand clear communication, the better it gets for everyone!
The Best Plain English Communication shows the world that plain English is the right way to write. You can give someone a pat on the back for an amazing piece of writing.
As Awards MC and long-time supporter James Elliott puts it:
Plain English is hard to define but we recognise its absence when we see gobbledygook.
Show the world what good looks like, and help create demand for lots more good writing!
Nominate a People’s Choice Best Communication
Don’t strain the brain — make it plain
How many brains does it take to change a lightbulb? If it takes more than one person or read-through to ‘click’ with what you’re reading, the writer hasn’t done a good job.
Call out poor communication! The Brainstrain category highlights communications that could be much clearer. Past winners of this infamous award have taken the award in good humour and seen the opportunities to improve.
Nominate a Brainstrain
Let the People’s Choice be your voice!
Vote for clarity and clear communication. Exercise your democratic right and let your voice be heard.
We don’t want to deal with jargon. We don’t want obscurity. We don’t want confusion when we read anything. We want to understand everything, plain and simple!
Submit your nomination
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, People's Choice awards
Best Plain English Communication, Brainstrain, clear communication, jargon, People's Choice, power of plain English, Worst Brainstrain
Lots of people work behind the scenes to make technical communication work well | Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay
Thanks to Write consultant and technical communicator Earnsy Liu for this blog post
2020 was a long year. The world was on tenterhooks, wondering how long COVID-19 would be around. Everyone hunkered down, made sourdough bread, and hoarded toilet paper. People got used to life on Zoom, and sometimes discovered cat filters the hard way.
Some workplaces changed tack completely and manufactured new products or offered new services. Other workplaces kept doing what they always did, but in different ways.
Your chance to get the recognition you deserve
Whichever category your workplace fell into, you probably did something differently. If you wrote any technical information you’re particularly proud of, the Awards judges want to hear from you.
Tell us about your clear procedures
Tell us about the new procedures you wrote, so that essential work could continue — safely distanced — through the pandemic. Procedures so clear and easy to use, that your colleagues could carry out complex procedures without missing a beat.
Tell us about your user-friendly online help
Tell us about the chunks of online help files you rewrote, so that non-techy customers could find answers to techy questions easily. Super easily, even though your customers came from diverse language and educational backgrounds.
Tell us about your new technical specifications
Tell us about the new technical specifications or instructions that you developed for your company’s new products in double-quick time. Maybe you wrote them while grappling with MadCap Flare or Framemaker, and collaborating for the first time in Confluence too!
Show us what you’ve done as an expert technical communicator
Send in up to five samples of your work. Showcase your plain language skills (hint: pick samples that show off your structure and layout too).
Tell us the context of your documents, including their purpose and audience.
Read more about our Best Plain English Technical Communicator category
Need more encouragement to enter?
Check out silver sponsor TechCommNZ’s fun video ‘10 reasons to enter the 2021 Plain English Awards’ in our gallery.
View TechCommNZ’s video
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Best Technical Communicator, Plain English Awards
Best Plain English Technical Communicator, clear communication, TechCommNZ, technical communication, technical communicator, technical writing
Breathe new life into your documents and make them worthy of the Turnaround Award | Photo by Bryn Parish on Unsplash
What does it take to win the Best Plain Language Turnaround category? What does a winning entry in this category look like?
More than an edit or redesign
A top submission in the Best Plain Language Turnaround category will be more than an edited version of an original document. It’ll be more than a website that has been redesigned. More than information that has been restructured to be more reader-focused. More than information that has been user-tested for its target audience.
Coming from a place of care
A winning entry in the Best Plain Language Turnaround category will include many of the above qualities and then some. Above all, it will clearly have come from a place of care. An individual or team will have looked at the communication and thought, ‘This information is important and the people it’s serving deserve our time to make the information better serve its purpose’. In other words, the writers will be caring for their readers.
What judges have said about previous winning entries
Have a read of what our judges have said about some of our past turnaround winners.
Winner 2018: Infinite Possibilities Limited
‘This is a damn clever turnaround. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.’
‘A remarkable change! You’ve taken a legal document and turned it on its head. It’s brilliantly unconventional, witty, exudes personality, and was a pleasure to read.’
‘The word choice is casual and direct with a very distinct tone. Some people will clearly consider it unbusiness-like and will not do business with this company. Others will find it refreshing and will move forward — exactly the intent to weed out those clients who find it offensive and to sign on those who find it refreshing.’
Winner 2017: Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management
‘This is a terrific turnaround from a dull, wordy website to one that is lively, engaging, and easy to navigate. This organisation has done a great job of using multimedia, and their restructuring of the content works really well.’
‘The scenario-based navigation on the home page is friendly, colourful, and relevant, and this flows well into the more text-heavy pages further down in the site. The scenarios capture the reader’s attention and the short videos are hilarious — a great way to get people involved in thinking through how to be ready for a disaster or emergency.’
‘The layout and formatting are much cleaner, with good use of white space and headings to focus the eye. The tips are helpful and the key messages are brought to the fore much more than in the original. Great work!’
Winner 2015: OSPRI
‘You’ve done a great job with this rewrite. It’s a vast improvement on the original. This is a usable and useful document, which does the job well. Nice work!
Find out more about the Best Plain Language Turnaround category
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Plain English Awards, Plain English Turnaround
2021 Plain English Awards, Best Plain English Turnaround, Best turnaround, clarity, clear communication, clear writing, plain language, Turnaround Award, writing for the public, writing for the reader