Keep It Simple Stupid! We have all heard this a thousand times. Yet it is often pushed aside when it comes to communicating with others. How does it apply to your employee communications?
Over the years we have had the opportunity to audit hundreds of communication pieces. These documents are often filled with jargon, long sentences and unnecessary information. This resulting communication makes it hard for your audience to take action, to understand your ideas, and often hurts employee engagement.
When we audit communication, we typically start with a simple, easy to use tool, that most people have access to, but don't know about. Checking the readability score of your communication can often make the difference. We find that most corporate, more specifically benefit communication is often written at the 11th to 12th grade level - or higher. The goal for your communication should be keeping the readability score at the 7th or 8th grade level.
Here are 2 steps to keep your communication simple and engaging:
1. Check the readability of your communication using this FREE communication tool within MS Office.
If you can not view YouTube videos at work, follow these steps:
1. Click on File, then click on Options.
2. Next, click on Proofing.
3. WIthin the Proofing menu options, look for the grammar section and make sure the Check Readability Statistics box is checked.
4. Click OK.
5. To check the readability statistics, now perform a spell check. When completed, a box with word count will display. Look for the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
2. If the readability score comes back higher 9th grade or higher, follow these recommendations:
- Eliminate jargon as much as possible. If you MUST use jargon, be sure to define it first.
- Do not use contractions.
- Use words having no more than two syllables.
- Delete words adding no value such as that, which, however, therefore, etc.
- Use verbs in the active tense.
- Keep it relevant and delete information that is not necessary to the reader.
- Keep sentences as short as possible.
I was in a client's office for one of their Customer Seminar's. While discussing readability with their clients, one of the visitors, a local NAHU volunteer, had recently written an article for their monthly newsletter. After hearing this message, she mentioned that one of her peer's had told her that they didn't 'get the article'. After the session, she tested the article and it came back in a 12.5 grade readability score. After following the tips above, the article tested out at a 7.5. The following day, after resending it to her peer, she received a big thumbs up on her article.
Remember, Keep It Simple. Your employees think communication is important!
To find out more about readability, visit the wikipedia page on Readability.
If you want to learn more about keeping your communication simple: