Use the power of champions for your plain language cause

During the Discovery phase of a recent culture change project, one of the first people we spoke to was a staff-member, Sue, who we quickly identified as a potential plain language ‘champion’.

Sue had been working for the organisation for about a year. During that time, she’d often tried to encourage people to use plain language. But she’d found she wasn’t being heard or that her colleagues would politely ignore her suggestions. Sue had great skills and lots of enthusiasm — she just needed a little backing and influence to get her message across.

We knew Sue would make a perfect plain language champion — and she did! Once her organisation announced a focus on plain language, Sue’s enthusiasm for plain language suddenly made her an asset. You probably have more than one ‘Sue’ at your place.

Finding the right people at the right time

Plain language champions are people who recognise the business benefits of using plain language and incorporate them into their own writing. And they’re generally willing to encourage colleagues to use plain language. But often, up until the Discovery phase, these people have felt alone on their clear-writing crusade.

Identifying potential champions early in a project, can be invaluable. Other champions will be identified from participants in training workshops, or by suggestions from managers.

What exactly does a plain language champion do?

Champions play a key part in supporting an organisation to embed clear communication into their culture. ‘Support’ is one of the components of our Rewrite for Change™ Model; the other main components are ‘Train’, ‘Expect’, and ‘Measure’.

During a change project, a plain language champion is expected to:

  • recognise the business benefit of using plain language and be willing to help achieve a lasting change in writing culture
  • understand the principles of plain language and incorporate them into their own writing
  • work with a project leader in encouraging all staff, or an assigned group to use a plain language standard.

Being a plain language champion can be a fun, creative, and rewarding role. You’ll find a full job description for plain language champions in Rewrite: How to overcome daily sabotage of your brand and profit.

Champions are precious people in a culture change project. They’re positive and enthusiastic cheerleaders for your project, and play a key role in maintaining momentum and enthusiasm.