Our judges explain why they love to be involved in the Plain English Awards | Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash
When we surveyed our judges for their top tips for a winning Awards entry, we got some lovely feedback about why they love to judge the Awards. We thought you might like to read it too. Perhaps some of the thoughts here will inspire you to celebrate plain language in your own organisations. And you might feel more inclined to demand clear communication from the organisations you encounter in your daily life.
Our judges love celebrating the use of plain English
Our judges felt that that the Plain English Awards are a fantastic way of encouraging and celebrating plain language in organisations.
As an ardent supporter of clear writing, I’m delighted to support them.
I think we should encourage people to excel in this area.
It’s fun, interesting, and it helps me with my mission: plain language as a human right, world wide!
I’ve been leading workshops on writing in five countries for more than 30 years. Judging the competition has always seemed a natural complement.
I love what Write does and stand for and I think any opportunity to promote plain language is a good opportunity.
It’s incredibly important to recognise good writing in and by organisations because they serve as an example to other organisations. In addition, New Zealand’s Plain English Awards have been a model and inspiration for other awards. I learn so much each time I judge.
To help out the plain English community. To keep in touch with the standard of writing across Aotearoa. And I suppose it’s good to have my name connected with the Awards. It’s certainly ‘on brand’!
From the shadows of legalese to the light of plain language
One of our judges, Jacqueline Stephenson (now a legal and business proofreader and plain language editor), shares some reflections on her years as a practising lawyer in the UK and New Zealand. Why did she write the way she did? And what does plain language in legal writing mean to her now?
Watch Jacqueline Stephenson’s video in our gallery
Awards founder Lynda Harris asks us all to demand clear communication
When Lynda Harris spoke at the Awards ceremony in 2018, she encouraged everyone present to demand clear communication, whether as a writer or a consumer.
So, believing what you do about the power of plain language, my question to you as both writer and consumer is ‘what action can you take that is bigger and bolder than before?’ How can you make your sense of care count?
Read Lynda’s inspiring words from that speech in our 2-part blog.
Care — the shortcut to plain language (part 1 of Lynda’s speech)
Care into action — rewrite or reject! (part 2 of Lynda’s speech)
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Communications, Judges, Plain English Awards
clear communication, democracy, improved writing, insights, judges, leadership, plain English, Trophy Tips Seminar
The Champion Best Organisation leads the way for clear communication | Photo by Joshua Golde on Unsplash
We asked Lynda Harris, Awards founder and CE of our principal sponsor Write, why she’s so excited about the Champion categories in the Plain English Awards.
First of all, what do we mean when we talk about an organisation being a plain language champion?
The Plain English Champion category is my absolute favourite! The title implies two strong, equally important concepts connected with the word ‘champion’. Most obviously it means being ‘the winner’ — the best, the highest achiever, the standard-setter, the model for others to follow. And we applaud that!
But also embodied in the title of this category is the concept of being an advocate — being a champion for a cause. Plain language champions believe in the power of clarity and are proud to share their ideals with the world.
What are some of the characteristics that set a champion organisation apart?
An organisation that wins the Plain English Champion category has some stand-out features that truly do set it apart. A champion organisation has shown evidence of a deliberate, focused, consistent choice across the whole organisation to use plain language. This means they make their expectations clear from the top.
The chief executive and senior leaders of a champion organisation talk about the ‘why’ of plain language. They and their management teams encourage and support others to adopt a clear style of communicating throughout the organisation. They promote the connection between clarity and their organisation’s values. (How often have you seen a company say they’re customer-focused, and then tried to work your way through a difficult form or a jumbled website?)
Champion organisations celebrate the benefits of clear communication — things like greater job satisfaction and improved workplace culture, or better customer retention and a stronger reputation for their business.
What do you think the judges will be looking for in the winning portfolio?
Evidence is key to a winning portfolio! The judges will be looking for evidence of a wholehearted commitment to making plain language the norm across the whole organisation. That sounds easy but means a lot.
In a plain language organisation, you’ll find evidence that the CEO and senior team have drawn a line in the sand and set a strong expectation that:
- the reader rules! Everyone considers their reader in every communication, both internal and external
- staff learn what good looks like — everyone writes to an agreed plain language standard
- senior people show the way — the CEO and all managers set an example and model plain language
- staff have help — they can easily find helpful resources and champions who can help
- new documents are clear and reader-friendly
- feedback and measurable results support the change to plain language.
What this evidence all adds up to is that plain language is woven into the fabric of the organisation.
Why does Write sponsor this category?
You can see that everything about this category is dear to Write’s heart. Our mission is to help organisations and individuals get more value from their daily investment in business communication. When we fulfil our mission, we help build a fairer, more respectful society.
We see the Plain English Awards as another way we can promote the benefits of clear communication. And the Champion category is the one that allows us to celebrate other organisations that are on a similar path to us.
Read about the purpose of the Plain English Awards
Preparing your Champion entry
Read about the criteria and prizes for the Champion categories
Read about other clues that your organisation is a champion of clear communication
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Judges, Plain English Champion
Champion, clear communication, leadership, plain language culture, recognition