Why choose Words & Beyond?

— striving for clear-communication change

When you choose plain-language trainers, or your document writers and rewriters, we encourage you to think beyond the “words” — to think about your organisation and your  people.

Your people
Like you, we are trying to do something that can be difficult, namely to get people (often highly intelligent and well educated people) to change something that is very personal — that is, how they express themselves in writing.

Your organisation
At work, many people write in a way that is heavy, formal, and traditional. Rarely, does their writing reflect their organisation’s brand.  Yet they often seem to resist their organisation’s push for clearer documents.  

Even though:

  • no organisation wants its documents to be off-putting, complicated and unreadable, so many business and government documents are at least that bad — and many are worse, and
  • business writing training has been around for a long time, truly clear documents are unusual — and documents that don’t make sense are common.

 

The cause of the problem
We believe that writers have a subconscious fear that if they change the way they write to become clearer, then they may lose some of their “professional credibility”. This fear prevents them from changing their style to a clearer style.  We witness that fear on every course we run for our clients.


The start of the solution
Helping people to overcome their fears about changing their writing is the start to making your documents as clear as they can be. This is what we do best.  And, we believe we are best at doing it.

 

Here are 6 reasons why we are the best at it.


1.    Our trainers write: so they understand your writers
For people to learn this stuff successfully to change the way they write, their trainer needs to understand the participant’s headspace. And that means the trainer needs to be a writer.

Many trainers only train. Our trainers are also writers who understand:
  • how hard it is to make documents truly clear; and
  • the emotional pain people go through to find a “new voice” — a voice that their readers find easy to understand and voice that reflects their organisation’s  brand.

2.    Our writers train: so they are always learning and improving
When you teach other people something, you learn more about it yourself.  Our document-rewriters learn by:
  • sharing our insights and techniques with course participants; and
  • responding to the questions — sometimes challenging— from course participants.  


3.    We’re plain-language advocates: so we can convince the doubters

Words and Beyond was set up long before plain-language was fashionable. Our founder, Christopher Balmford worked at the Law Reform Commission of Victoria, which lead the debate with the legal profession about whether plain-language was even possible.

Happily, the Commission won the debate.  

With this experience behind us, you can be sure that we will, politely, debate with anyone in your organisation — no matter how informed, articulate, and argumentative — who might doubt the benefits and possibilities of plain language.   Responding to that resistance and “turning the sceptics” is a role we enjoy.

4.    We customise a lot: but not too much
We tailor our courses to meet our clients’ needs, so you can meet your client's needs.

On our main plain-language course, we tailor 25% of the course time — usually, that’s about 2.5 hours.  That time is devoted to participants working on documents from their own organisation. This helps them internalise the material from the course and apply the learning in their own world which is crucial to causing change.

5.    What’s happening elsewhere: international thought leadership
We are invited to speak at international conferences.  We learn while we’re there. We see a few, but not all of our competitors there and we wonder how they stay on top of the field.

6.    More than training: more than rewriting
Causing deep and abiding clear-communication cultural-change is what interests us - the big picture stuff. We want to help organisations develop cultures that value and deliver clear communication and documents they are proud of.


To help you, we provide a wide range of services and products. These include:

  • writing and rewriting your documents
  • running introductory plain-language pep-talks
  • running plain-language training, and follow-up coaching and editing
  • running grammar, punctuation and email etiquette courses
  • designing and running sessions to cause dramatic change and to keep people thinking about clarity long after the “dramatic-change” training is over
  • preparing engaging style guides that people want to read and use.

We have helped our clients to drive intensive long-term cultural-change programs. Sometimes our people were based in our client’s office for periods of time.  And other times we just turn up and talk for an hour or so. Whatever your needs, we can help you.