In the public sector, you work with complex information. Overloaded reports, presentations and briefs do little to engage or inform your audience, leaving them confused and with more questions than they arrived with.
Complex topics are challenging but need to be communicated clearly and in a compelling way. We’ve detailed a quick guide so you can help your readers to grasp even the most complicated information. Here’s how to succeed when it comes to presenting complex information with simplicity.
- Think About Your Audience
- Be Concise
- Focus on Your Key Message
- Use Diagrams and Models
- Keep It Jargon-Free
Think About Your Audience
Get to know who your audience or listeners are: What's most important to them? What motivates them? What language do they tend to use? Without tailoring to your audience, the information you present might be difficult to understand.
Your job is to make it easy for readers to gain the information they need. Keeping them at the heart of your writing will guarantee an understanding of the complex ideas and topics you’re presenting.
An ongoing challenge with writing in the public sector is trying to condense lengthy documents into short summaries while also having that information understood by readers with varying levels of knowledge.
You have the potential to reach large audiences through different networks in your role, so make every enticing word count. Another essential writing tip for engaging your audience is to switch to the active voice rather than the passive where possible. It’ll engage the audience so much more.
Always get straight to the point. There’s no place for flowery writing in the public sector, although metaphors can help explain convoluted ideas better. It needs to be succinct and straight to the point. With complex topics, less is typically better than more.
Focus on Your Key Message
Challenge each of your key points to make sure they’re relevant. Does this encourage understanding or cause more confusion? If it’s the latter or you’re not sure, just take it out. Presenting complex information with simplicity requires some extensive editing to achieve the right balance. It might be you enlist a colleague to go through it with a fine-toothed comb.
As we stated previously, using metaphors is a very effective way to help you make your complex ideas relatable. However, you need to be as clear and concise as possible but not patronise your audience by making it seem easier to understand than it really is. It always needs to tie back to your key messaging.
Striking a balance between the two will make your writing easier to follow across the board.
Use Diagrams and Models
Where possible, use real-life examples and diagrams to help illustrate your difficult topics. Here are some possibilities:
- Chunking: Chunk ideas/factors/items that have a commonality together. Show what they have in common and highlight where they differ.
- Sequencing: Put the items in an order that makes sense. It could be chronological or a top-level view to a more in-depth and detailed view of your topic.
- Venn diagrams: A Venn diagram is great for visually showcasing the overlaps and differences between items.
- Flowcharts: A well-constructed flow chart enables your audience to see the process and clearly identify the action points and decisions made as a result.
These visual assets help to break up walls of text and presents data simply. This is great for keeping the reader stimulated and reengage them if they’ve switched off.
Keep it Jargon-Free
Your language is a powerful tool. Complex vocabulary can sometimes alienate your audience. If there’s a simpler word available, use it so that what you’re saying is accessible for all. While using long, technical words might seem impressive and shows you really know your service area, it rarely helps anyone understand what you’re trying to say.
Opt for simple, everyday language, avoiding any acronyms, jargon or highly-niche phrases. When it's impossible to avoid, make sure to define any complicated terms.
Breaking down complex ideas is a hurdle every public sector worker must face, especially if you're working with people who might have zero context about your work. But as long as you focus on the most important information, tailor your language for more everyday conversation and give context - you're well on your way to getting them on the same page as you.
This quick guide covers the fundamentals of writing so readers pay attention to your content and better digest it. However, we’ve provided even more value in a guide dedicated entirely to effective public sector writing. Why not check it out below?
Create More Compelling Written Content in the Public Sector
If you’re looking to write better reports, more informative minute taking, better present complex information or even brush up on your writing in general, then this guide is for you. We’ve catered it specifically to those writing daily in the public sector so you can create copy that resonates.
To get your copy, click below.