5 Top Tips To Consider When Writing For A Global Audience
Guest Post by Jennifer Ranking
English is the most common language spoken around the world. Whether you’re travelling to the Middle-East or to Europe, it’s likely that a fair number of local people will have English as a second language if not their first. But in business, if you’re looking to expand and grow then it’s important that you’re able to cater to all audiences which is writing for a global audience does have a different set of skills, even if you feel you’ve mastered the language of business. Here are 5 top tips when it comes to communicating to global audiences through your writing.
1. Grammar is correct
Grammar is essential when it comes to writing and it can instantly change the context of a sentence depending on how you use it. This is why it’s extremely common for many language classes and courses to focus heavily on grammar. If your writing isn’t grammatically correct, many of your readers are going to find it difficult to understand what you’re trying to say and soon become unfamiliar with common language patterns.
2. Keep your sentences short
Think of your sentences as like a long task. The more you break it down into sections, the more likely you are to understand its complexities. The shorter you can make your sentences in your writing, the reader will find it far easier to understand the points that you’re making and appear less intimidating. If you find your work is filled with long sentences, review it and see if you can split them up into sentences of about 20.
3. Minimise the use of abstract nouns
By definition, an abstract noun is “a word that refers to a state, event, quality, concept or feeling”. This means that it’s a word that’s something you can’t physically see. For example, abstract nouns are words such as meeting, anger or research. They’re something that aren’t really there. You can understand that this can become quite confusing for a reader who doesn’t have English as their first language so try to minimise these where you can.
4. Be careful with ‘helping’ verbs
Examples of modal verbs include the following; ‘shall’, ‘should’, ‘will’, ‘would’, ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘can’, ‘could’ and ‘must’. It’s strange to think that these types of words are only really used by speakers most familiar with the English language. They essentially provide a different context to the task or situation being applied to the sentence. For example, there is a major difference between saying that you ‘may’ submit your application for a UK visa compared to an application stating that you ‘must’ submit your application by the given date. ‘May’ implies that you have an option to and it won’t be an issue, whereas ‘must’ implies that it has to be done otherwise there’s no further option.
This can be confusing for non-native speakers, which is why you have to be assertive with your writing.
5. Avoid phrasing in the negative
Double negatives are also a term use that can be extremely confusing for readers. An example of a double negative can be “I don't want nothing.” You may be implying that you don’t want anything, but saying “I don’t want nothing” suggests that you want something.
It’s important to note that although in the English language double negatives can lead to a positive, in other languages they can simply emphasise the negative. For example, someone from Spain may see a phrase such as ‘not unlikely’ as ‘very unlikely’, compared to some who speaks English who would see it as ‘likely’. It’s examples like these which can appear very confusing to global audiences.
When it comes to any aspect as well as writing, it’s always important to know and understand your audience. What may seem a normality to some, will be alien and confusing to others. Know your audience before you begin and you’re far more likely to be successful.