Why communicating in writing is so hard

How would you feel if you were asked to bake a cake using one spoon, a bowl and no measuring scales? Writing isn’t quite as difficult as that, but it’s worth remembering that when you write you are working with just words, less than 10% of the tools of normal communication. You can’t see your […]

Civil servants need writing training

Whatever your views on Michael Gove’s Ditchley lecture last weekend, the bit that pleased me was his inclusion of writing training in the list of measures needed by the civil service. Mr Gove, the minister responsible for the civil service and previously responsible for education, said: “We know already from evidence of what works in […]

When information hinders rather than helps

Helpful information is presented in the order that suits the reader, not the writer. Too often, however, writers present information in the order that suits them. The obvious examples are where the writers are worried that they may be legally challenged and put the information of least use to the reader first. Have a look […]

Writing short bits is hard

“Rugby Union World Cup pull-out”, the Evening Standard poster said a few days ago. Oh no, I thought, which team has pulled out before the World Cup has even started? An easy mistake to make, and not much of a problem. I had several seconds to think again and realise that the “pull-out” was part […]

Good business requires human contact

Why do we tend to trade with our neighbours rather than people on the other side of the world? This question was asked in a recent documentary about trade on BBC Radio 4. The answer seems obvious: it’s more expensive to carry goods a long distance than a short one. Yet that argument has been […]