Does your message clarity pass the "Admin Assistant Test?"
Back when I was an ad agency creative director, teams would pitch concepts that were clever, but unclear. Yet they'd insist that readers would understand their intent.
Rather than argue, we'd take the board out to the hallway and ask an admin assistant what he/she thought it was saying. No prompting allowed. The idea had to stand on its own. The resulting confused expression usually confirmed that we had more work to do.
You can try this quick test next time you're unsure if your point is coming across. Grab someone totally unfamiliar with the project and conduct a mini-focus group.
Just for Fun
Designing useable ballots
Speaking of clarity. The current season reminds us of a past election where poor ballot design caused thousands of West Palm Beach seniors to unintentionally vote for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore. That historic fail inspired the Center for Civic Design to develop a free guide to Designing Useable Ballots.
The principles they espouse happen to be good advice for making any print piece as clear as possible. You can check it out at civicdesign.org/fieldguides/.
Lively Writing, on Time and on Target
When your message needs to engage and persuade, be sure to approach it from the Write Angle. Udi Shorr writes marketing and sales-training presentations for live audiences, video, print, and the Web. You benefit from years of marketing experience with Fortune 500 clients.