When writing essays, articles, courses and even social media posts, there’s a temptation to use fancy language to impress. But often, you just lose readers. Here’s how I learned the power of simplicity, when it comes to copy…
When I was at university (Sussex, studying English), I thought language should be fancy and intellectual. I remember reading an essay I’d written out loud to my then-boyfriend, in a bid to impress him. And he was impressed. He said he barely understood a word of it; that it had gone right over his head. Except it probably wasn’t that clever at all; it was over-complicated and possibly didn’t even make sense.
I moved onto a journalism MA and started to realise that you could explain complex ideas and situations using simple language. That words should be used to communicate, rather than impress (and confuse). It was probably around this time that I changed the way I wrote poetry too, using uncomplicated words and focusing on the meaning more than the amount of syllables.
Then I became a corporate copywriter and again, simplicity was key: it was about saying as much as possible in as few words as possible. To appeal to a mass market, I couldn’t use flowery language – I had to get straight to the point. And so my own writing continued to get simpler and simpler. And I liked that the simpler it got, the more people enjoyed it.
Now, with my courses, I keep the language and lessons simple. It’s about teaching new skills without any daunting advice, tips or exercises. So receiving this message from Ana, on my Becoming your own Boss course, made me very happy:
‘Thanks so much for this and for setting up this course. I started yesterday and it has given me so much to think about already. But what is particularly excellent about the course and the way it is set out is that it does not feel overwhelming at all. I can see clearly how each new exercise builds on what came before. I feel like I’m in safe hands.’
If you’d like to join the Becoming your own Boss course, there’s a sizzling summer sale now on: £20 off until 31st July, making it just £75.