Get message across in plain English

HIGHLY EFFECTIVE: Local SME’s should use simple language to tap into global markets.

SMALL- and medium-sized  enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of the Malaysian economy. More than 90 per cent of all business establishments in Malaysia are SMEs. However, exports only make up 19 per cent of the total revenue generated by SMEs. The Malaysian SME Masterplan targets to increase this figure to 25 per cent by 2020. But  I see a potential problem.

Malaysia has been my home for more than 20 years. My job is helping companies with their written information and producing manuals for them.

But, over the years, I have noticed an alarming decline in the standard of English in companies. And, unfortunately, English happens to be the global language of business. It is the de facto language of communication between people who don’t share a common native language.

So, for Malaysian SMEs to do better in the international arena, their standard of English needs to improve. Fortunately, I think there is a way to do this.

Business is about communicating with one another and about making the other party understand your value proposition. It is also about building relationships. And, in an age of market clutter, an ever-increasing challenge is to be heard.

In the fierce battle for time and attention, speed, clear communication and information to relate to is essential. Above the noise and din in the market, you need to get your message across quickly and understood easily.

I believe the answer to this challenge is plain English. Plain English is a different way of communicating, particularly in writing things like emails and proposals.

Plain English is easier to write, read and understand. It ensures your target audience understands your message the first time they read it or hear it. Plain English reduces the complexity of the English language. In traditional or academic English, like we learn in school, there are hundreds of rules and almost as many exceptions to those rules. But, in plain English, you only have 14 basic rules to remember.

by  Geoff Webb

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