Can We Please Simplify?

By Preriit Souda

Every day I get loads of emails. Some I have subscribed to and some I don’t know why I subscribed. Some of the emails lead me to long blogs written by academics and consultants. Within a minute of reading these, I search for the escape button. I understand the content, but the use of complex language and jargon to explain simple topics takes its toll on me.

I often wonder, can authors of these articles please simplify things or at least avoid making simple things complex?

There are certain topics which are complex. However, based on my limited experience, I have seen writers deliberately make simple topics appear complex to make them look more intellectual. Some might see the merit in catering to a specific class of “intellectual readers”. However, I feel that it’s more damaging than helpful. Real impact can be driven when there is clarity and simplicity. By going the other way, knowledge is limited to a small section of people.

Some might agree with the idea that there are some topics which are complex; say specific analytical concepts. If this is the case, we should try to explain the core concept simplistically while tackling the complex aspects of the concept differently for those who are interested. By doing so, the core concept reaches a broader audience and has more impact while engaging the complex-loving minority. Some excellent examples of the first part of the idea are:

  • This video explaining Einstein’s theory of relativity
  • This highly simplified decision tree

Here are some points to help make your writing simpler:

  1. Know your reader: understand how long an article they want and the language they understand
  2. Learn from journalists: learn how the very best keep people hooked and apply to your writing
  3. Use, not abuse, images and visualizations: use images and visuals to support your writing. However, remember too many confuse the reader and detract from the words you’re using
  4. Write your article and then sleep over it: then the next day, read it as a reader and not as a writer. Such an exercise will help improve your article’s readability
  5. Keep it short: don’t use complexity or repetition to make an article longer
  6. Consider language barriers: the internet is truly global. Not everyone is a native English speaker so use the simplest language possible

The world is getting complicated. Let’s try not to add to this by making simple ideas complex. The simpler your writing is, the more people will understand it.

By Preriit Souda, PSA Consultants