I just returned from the CLARITY 2010 conference in Lisbon, Portugal. It was an excellent conference with attendees and speakers from all over the world, USA, UK, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, to name just a few. CLARITY promotes plain legal language. I spoke on the topic "beyond plain language." As most of you know, I believe that plain language is only part of clear communications and sometimes not a very important part. My talk centered around plain language, graphic design, psychology and usability, focusing on the last three. I wanted to point out that plain language does not necessarily solve the problem of clear communications and that is, after all, what we are all trying to achieve.
I used examples showing use of white space, fonts, usability testing, etc. The presentation seemed to be well received and i got positive feedback after it. For me, I achieved a few things: First, I got in front of an audience that had an idea of what I was talking about but also was willing to listen and learn. Second, I met many old friends and made new friends. It was especially gratifying to put faces to names of people I have corresponded with through emails and lists. As a fellow of the Communications Research Institute, I was joined by Karen Schriver and Karel van der Waarde. Karel and I had never met, but we spent some talking and it was most enjoyable. Other conversations were just as exciting and rewarding.
Most of the sessions were very worthwhile, but the days were long. My only regret was I couldn't attend all sessions and there was almost no time for questions and discussions. Having attended numerous conferences, I understand the problems with time and logistics and, unfortunately, I don't have any quick solutions.
The fact that I was able to meet people from all over the world, doing similar work was most rewarding. Let me not forget to mention that Lisbon is a very interesting and exciting city and Portugal is a wonderful country. That just added to the overall success of the conference.