Reflections on the art of explaining

Boil it down


Thanks Edward for putting us on to this old-school newspaper editors’ mantra for writers. All sing along now…

If you’ve got a thought that’s happy,

Boil it... »

Be positive, not negative!


Failure.  While writing a tender application, I read the instructing letter – it stated “Failure to submit in the correct format will mean rejection”.  Well I panicked!  Failure… what... »

Advice for reluctant writers … from the Great Explainer


The American physicist Richard P Feynman (1918-1988) is perhaps the greatest communicator in the history of science. His contributions place him among the most influential scientists of the 20th... »

Do as you would be done by: how to connect with your reader


One of my first jobs was as a cashier in a building society. At the counter, I came face-to-face with all sides of human nature — friendly, impatient, worried, aggrieved,... »

Older people write better digital content


I’ve just turned 41. I played football on my Birthday, ruptured my Achilles tendon and now I’m here with my leg in plaster. So I thought I’d mention one... »

Why communication failure is an unaffordable risk


Too many financial institutions are failing to turn the mistakes of others into lessons of sound governance. So what’s missing from the myriad rules designed to safeguard this industry?... »

Why medical information will get better


I’ve been taking pills. They’ve done wonders for my backache. And the name of this rejuvenating cure is ‘Rheumatac Retard 75’.

Rheumatac Retard. Can you feel the healing power? The... »

How to explain first time


‘If you’re explaining you’re losing.’ That phrase recently came out to bite President Obama, after he gave a 17-minute answer to a short question about healthcare and taxes.

Healthcare and... »

How computer code can improve your writing


As a writer, more and more of my words are published online. The more I work with web developers and designers, the more I see of the dark arts... »

Unusual advice on how to begin a proposal


Decision makers love to say ‘I only ever read the executive summary’. And the way you start your proposal tends to seal its fate. It’s your Dragon’s Den moment:... »

Why you should start at the end, and why we don’t


Remember science at school? That’s where I learned to dice rats, mix volatile substances, handle electric shocks and melt biros with a Bunsen burner. It’s also where most of... »

The writer’s job: looking after gorillas


Tell me if this sounds familiar: you write a report in which you carefully deal with items A to Z, then your boss or client asks why you didn’t... »

The benefits of sounding like Jamie Oliver


You may not want to resemble Jamie Oliver in any way, but his writing has qualities of energy, confidence and ownership that any organisation can harness by changing a... »

Don’t blame the messenger


Professor Michael Shayer of King’s College London recently repeated a study first done in 1976 to test the problem-solving abilities of 800 secondary pupils. He found they’ve got better... »