Seven reasons to choose Words and Beyond

Here are 7 reasons why we are good at helping people to change their writing style to make it refreshingly clear.

1. Our trainers write: so they understand your writers For a person to successfully change the way they write, the trainer needs to understand the person’s headspace. And that means the trainer needs to be steeped in writing about complicated, high-stakes, technical topics that are heavily-regulated. That’s us.

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 a voice that reflects their organisation’s brand.

2. Our writers train: so they are always learning and improving  When you teach people something, you learn more about it yourself.  Our document-rewriters learn by:

  • sharing our insights and techniques with course participants; and
  • responding to their ― sometimes challenging ― questions.

3. We’re plain-language advocates: so we can convince the doubters  Words and Beyond was set up long before plain language was fashionable. Way back in the 1990s, our Managing Director, (and founder) Christopher Balmford, worked at the Law Reform Commission of Victoria, which led the debate with the legal profession about whether plain language was even possible. Happily, the Commission won the debate. 

Christopher is still campaigning for plain-language ― for example, in 2020 he is the Convenor of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) Working Group that is developing a standard for plain language. Indeed, he chaired the International Plain Language Federation’s Standards Committee when the Federation instigated a Standards Australia proposal to ISO for a plain language standard. And in June 2019, in Ottawa, Canada, at the annual forum of the relevant ISO committee, Christopher presented the case for the standard on behalf of Standards Australia. ISO approved the proposal in 2019.

With this advocacy 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 and customer’s needs.

On our main plain language course, we tailor about 25% of the course time — usually, that’s about 2 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 regularly speak at international plain language conferences. We learn while we’re there. 

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

7. Our courses are super engaging  We’ve run these courses many times. We couldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy it; it if it wasn’t entertaining ― for the participants and for us. We couldn’t do it if the conversation we have with the participants didn’t hold our ― and their ― interest.

One of our favorite testimonials: "Bob should host the Oscars".

We strive to help your people write documents that meet the International Plain Language Federation’s definition of plain language ― namely:

"A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended readers can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information". International Plain Language Federation, definition

Our Managing Director, Christopher Balmford, is on the Federation’s board,

Our courses, coaching, and document rewriting services

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

We have helped our clients to drive intensive long-term cultural-change programs. Sometimes our people were based in our client’s office for 6 months (at NAB) or even 2.5 years (at AMP).  And other times we just run a plain language pep-talk. Whatever your plain language needs, we can help.


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