Simon Says: Plain Language is King, Everything Else is Just BS

Simon Dudley, Video Evangelist, LifeSize

A colleague of mine introduced me to an organization called the Center for Plain Language. I can’t believe I didn’t know this organization existed, but now that I do, I have to say that I think the idea is genius. After spending some time on their website and social channels, I now consider myself a full-on fan. Here is a snippet from their “About” page:

“We support those who use plain language, train those who should use plain language, and urge people to demand plain language in all the documents they receive, read, and use.”

I literally could not have said it better myself.

Photo Courtesy of CenterforPlainLanguage.org

It is a wonder that organizations like this one are not better publicized, but I have a guess as to why. Companies that use fluffy marketing jargon are just like the emperor who has no clothes. They may think that what they are doing is the most innovative, stunning, magnificent, earth-shattering approach in the world, but really, everyone else can see right through the façade. Not only that, the companies that hide behind this puffery probably cannot explain what they do or how their products work, so they think that if they can disguise it in marketing speak, they don’t have to try.

 

Competitor A:

Plain speak isn’t just about getting your message across simply, it’s also about being forthright about your company’s strengths and weaknesses (yes, we all have them). For example, one video vendor’s systems are not interoperable with standards-based systems, and multiparty calls only work through their proprietary solution. Not to mention, their mobile solution needs proprietary gear too. Yet on their website, they claim that they have a “complete solution portfolio for universal video conferencing.” If your systems can’t talk to other standards-based systems and you can’t even make a multiparty call without having a proprietary product, there’s nothing “universal” about that.

Competitor B:

 

“Coupled that with the most powerful partnerships, we believe [our company] will emerge as the undisputed leader for collaboration solutions that are open, secure and the most innovative in the market.”

That statement is all well and good, but what about flexible collaboration solutions? We’ve never heard this competitor mention right-size buying or scale-as-you-grow capabilities. Also, it is questionable as to whether their new products are really “open” and offer true video interoperability.

Competitor C:

Another example of this is one video conferencing vendor who likes to refer to its three-screen, mirrored telepresence suite as something that “can help everyone, everywhere be more productive.” When you have an expensive solution like this, it in no way enables “everyone” to be more productive – just the select few who use the suite. Even the most profitable companies cannot afford to put a $300,000 video conferencing solution at every employee’s desk. If you want a solution that can truly enable users to connect anytime, anywhere, it has to be affordable, easy to buy, manage, deploy and use, interoperable with third-party endpoints and scalable.

I think that everyone should take a look at the Center for Plain Language organization and then, take a closer look to see if your company meets their standards. I am betting that most video conferencing companies would not. Until companies can learn to speak plainly without all of that marketing fluff, I think everyone will still have to continue to sift through the BS.

- +Simon Dudley

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One Response to Simon Says: Plain Language is King, Everything Else is Just BS

  1. Julie Clement says:

    If you like the Center for Plain Language, you’ll also appreciate Clarity, the international organization for Plain Legal Language (http://www.clarity-international.net/) and PLAIN, the Plain Language Association InterNational (http://www.plainlanguagenetwork.org/). These three organizations are doing great work around the world! The next major conference is the PLAIN 2013 conference in Vancouver (http://www.plain2013.org/). Maybe we’ll see you there!

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