Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: People’s Choice — Worst ‘Brainstrain’ Communication 2016

Parliamentary Service

Consumer NZ's Karen McDonald holds the dubious '2016 'Brainstrain' prize — a stainless steel bin filled with sour worm lollies!

Document name

Business Process Coordinator job description

Judges’ comment

The winning document — a job description — is a classic example of the myth that a verbose and impersonal document is somehow more professional than a concise and engaging one.

This 1700-word document contains just 16 sentences, but their average length is 34 words with the worst sentence clocking in at 62 words!

The document’s focus is on the organisation and department rather than the role and reader. Using the word ‘you’ would have made the document more engaging to potential applicants.

Overall, this document’s well-intentioned thoroughness has come at the cost of readability and usefulness.

The  62-word sentence from the job description

The OSP Group ensures that the GM and ELT are provided with strategic vision and leadership in the planning, development, implementation and operation of Service wide governance-related support services, policy and Speakers Directions advice, and communication advice and services for engaging with the Parliamentary Service workforce, Members of Parliament, and the public, through the sector approach with the Office of the Clerk.

Video acceptance speech

Media statement

Someone once said: maturity comes when you stop making excuses and start making changes — and as an organisation, we are maturing. We accept with good grace that we don’t always get things right, and when it is pointed out that we need to do better, we acknowledge our faults and pledge to do better.  Who knows, maybe next year People’s Choice will see an example of some of the exceptional work we are doing and recognise the difference we are making through the way we communicate.

David Stevenson
GM Parliamentary Service