Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court nominee is no dummy, but she's intentionally simplifying her language to avoid an "egghead" stereotype, according to a New York Times article. Apparently, most Americans don't value intelligence in their political candidates and may perceive the super-bright as just plain arrogant.
- Watch part of Kagan's opening statement. How successful do you think she was in coming across as a "regular person"?
- How is Kagan's attempt at simple, clear language similar to business writing principles discussed in Chapter 5? How is this example different? (Hint: How do Kagan's audiences differ from business audiences?)
- Find a business report (e.g., an annual report) or presentation (e.g., an investor presentation) online. How appropriate is the communication for the intended audience? Write a memo to the writer or presenter with your assessment about the level of communication.
- Take a fresh look at a report you wrote recently. Imagine you need to send the report to a new audience who is less familiar with the topic. What adjustments would you make in writing style to adapt to this audience?