Meg began her work in political communication working for then Senator Hillary Clinton in her native New York. Later, she moved to Washington D.C. where she consulted for USAID on sensitive projects promoting reproductive freedom worldwide. Since moving to Brussels, Meg has advised all the usual suspects in the EU ‘bubble’ – from think-tanks and political parties to start-ups and big business.
Q: How did you become a writer?
I’ve been writing my whole professional life. When I moved to Brussels, it was clear to me that there was not enough writing in plain English. So I started working as a consultant in political communication, moved on to helping start-ups with their pitches and now I do more writing for big, international companies.
Q: What sort of mistakes do you see in writing that makes messages unclear?
The use of the passive voice. When you write in the passive voice you are not engaging your readers. I also see too much jargon. A regular person would not be able to understand what comes from the desk of the average politician. This overuse of jargon relates to the curse of knowledge. This leads highly informed people to write in ways that are completely unintelligible to those who are less informed.
Q: What are some writing trends that excite and worry you?
Today there is a greater emphasis on relatable writing – writing in a conversational tone of voice that sounds human. I think this is really exciting and a positive change.
However, something that I worry about, and this is not necessarily new, is the use of jargon becoming normal. This sort of writing style is widely accepted because it often comes from the desk of important people, but it does not have to be this way. I hope that relatable writing continues to grow and hopefully this will counteract the overuse of jargon in the future.
Q: Are there good English language channels for communication in Brussels?
I think that POLITICO Europe coming into the market is basically an acknowledgment that there is room for more dynamic and interesting news coming out of the European institutions. This media has provided a great angle on the news because they have great storytellers. The fact that this outlet is exclusively in English, reiterates the importance of English in both business and politics.
Q: What is one thing you would like your clients to know about you?
You don’t need to be an expert on a subject to write clearly and persuasively about it. It’s about understanding the essentials of good English style – how to write clear, concise and precise content.
Meg teaches Clear Europe’s Writing for the Web course and can help make your texts clearer, shorter and punchier