"Woman Holding Katana Weapon" by marin

FPA Connect – a secret weapon to improve your writing?

The Financial Planning Association of Colorado inspired this tip, as a result of my speaking there in April 2014. The tip? If you’re a Financial Planning Association member struggling to find plain language to explain a technical term, ask your colleagues on FPA Connect for help.

If you’re not an FPA member, tap other organizations or social networks.

Plain language is more powerful

As I’ve said earlier, “Simple language helps your readers, even when they understand technical terms.”

For less sophisticated readers, technical terms block their understanding of your message. You may lose them as soon as they see jargon.

Standard references may fall short

You have resources to help you restate complex terms in plain language. Sources like Investopedia, InvestorWords, and the Morningstar Investing Glossary.

However, sometimes those sources fall short. They may lack the terms you need. This is when asking others for help can save the day.

Ask your peers for help

“How can I handle a complex technical term like ____?” asked a participant in my Colorado FPA presentation on “Writing Effective Emails and Letters.” It was a tough one. I had no idea how to simplify it on the spot.

However, an audience member—I think it was Carol—chimed in with a plain language equivalent. When you’re stumped like this, you typically won’t be in a room of people who can help. However, it sounds as if FPA Connect, a private social media community for FPA members can fill that role for you.

During the announcement phase of the meeting, I’d heard Carol urge members to check out FPA Connect. Both she and Joe Clemens told stories of how FPA Connect had helped them find answers to questions that might have stumped them otherwise. I believe they posted their questions online, and then waited for responses to roll in. It sounds as if FPA Connect would be a great place to say, “How can I handle a complex technical term like ____?”

I’ve done something similar myself. I’ve posted technical terms in LinkedIn’s “Financial Writing/Marketing Communications” group, asking for help in identifying plain-language equivalents. It usually works.

Has this worked for you?

If this has worked for you, please share your experience in the “Comments” section. I enjoy learning from you.

Image courtesy of Marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net