Clarity 2018 — a quick trip to Montreal

Lynda Harris | November 7, 2018

Parlez-vous français? Our CEO Lynda Harris has just returned from the Clarity 2018 conference held in sometimes snowy, very French Montreal.

I loved Clarity2018 — and Montreal! Visiting a French-speaking region, spending time with over 500 delegates from around the world, and enjoying the first snowfalls of the season made for a fascinating and stimulating few days! Clarity 2018 was the biggest Clarity conference yet, with lawyers, plain language practitioners, and a range of advocates for clear writing in legal and other sectors. I’ve come home brimming with new ideas and inspiration. I plan to share some of the brilliant presentations by blog or webinar over the coming months, so watch this space!

Here’s a quick taster of some of my favourites from Clarity 2018.

Image, Snow falling on a Montreal street scene at night.

Snow in Montreal. Image by David Muir.

Design thinking

A plenary session presented by Eric Kavanagh and Susan Kleimann

I loved Eric and Susan’s plenary presentation on design thinking — how to produce documents that recognise the human experience as reader and user. Their successful project to transform a loan disclosure statement used by millions of Americans was a beautiful example of design thinking (and loads of testing) in action.

Report on steps to create an international plain language Standard

Presented by members of the Standards Subcommittee of the International Plain Language Federation

The goal is to create a standard that works in all languages. I’m part of this committee and the task is huge but exciting! After extensive consultation across the plain language community, subcommittee chair Christopher Balmford is leading an initial application process through Standards Australia.

The public speaks, again

Results of an international survey, presented by Professor Christopher Trudeau

Chris reported on the findings of his second survey to test public opinions about plain legal language. The results of the study, which was carried out with Christine Cawthorne, are super interesting! And it’s fascinating to see how New Zealanders responded compared to other countries. See the full story in this article by Christine Cawthorne.

Flimsy claims for legalese and false criticisms of plain language

A presentation by Professor Emeritus Joseph Kimble

As expected, plain language veteran Joe gave a fabulous, very funny presentation and got huge applause at the end. He summarised 30 years of evidence that refutes all of the claims against plain language (yes, they’re still out there!).

You can get a copy of Joe’s latest book here


And the conference had so much more. Interested in joining us at future plain language conferences? Get the latest updates by joining or visiting PLAIN (for 2019) and Clarity (for 2020).

Image, Web banner for Clarity conference 2018, white logo on blue background.

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.