March 25, 2017

A world of hurt

Global literacy is falling. What’s a communicator to do?

Read it and weep: After decades of reporting five levels of literacy, the largest adult literacy study in the world has dropped Level 5, the top level, for lack of participation.

A world of hurt

From Shanghai to Chicago Around the world, just 12% of people read at “proficient” levels. Image by Mori Yama

The reason: Just 2% of adults worldwide performed at Level 5, so researchers combined it with Level 4 in their most recent report.

Welcome to the world of literacy today, according to the 2013 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, or PIAAC.

PIAAC is an enormous, every-10-year study of adult literacy, developed and organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The study seeks to determine how well adults are prepared to function in today’s society.

The answer, according to PIAAC: Not very well.

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“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”
— George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics

So your readers can’t read. Now what?

How to reach readers in a world of illiteracy

More than half of all Americans have basic or below basic prose skills, according to the Department of Education’s latest adult literacy test. That means they can sign forms, compare ticket prices for two events and look up shows in a TV guide.

So your readers can't read

Coast to coast — and around the world Literacy rates in developed countries are much lower than communicators and their organizations imagine. Find out how to reach your readers where they really are at our only Cut Through the Clutter Master Class of 2016. Image by See-ming Lee

But they have trouble finding places on a map, calculating the cost of office supplies from a catalog and comparing viewpoints in two editorials.

How well are you doing at reaching these folks?

Find out at Cut Through the Clutter — a two-day tight-writing Master Class on May 11-12 in Chicago. There, you’ll get the stats you need to make a reasonable estimate about your target audience’s reading level, and the tools you need to reach them where they are.

Using our tools, you’ll write and rewrite your own copy, watching readability rise by 100%, 200% — even 300%. (We saw one writer improve the readability of her piece by more than 1,200% in a single hour.) You’ll walk away with a cool tool (it’s free!) for measuring, monitoring and managing readability.

This is the only Cut Through the Clutter Master Class we’ve scheduled for this year. At the time of this writing, we still had three early bird tickets left. But they won’t last long: We expect this Master Class to sell out quickly.

Don’t miss out. Register now.

Register now

“The most concise, outstanding ‘short course’ on cleaning up copy.”
— Kevin Trenga, manager, marketing communications, The Raymond Corp.

Polish your skills at our 2016 Master Classes

Learn to Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for persuasive writing workshop in Atlanta on April 20-21
Register for tight writing workshop in Chicago on May 11-12

Register for writing workshop in San Diego on June 28-29
Register for PR writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28

Register for Online writing workshop in New York on Sept. 28-29
Register for writing workshop in Houston on Nov. 2-3
Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?
Contact Ann directly.

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Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Atlanta: April 20-21
  • Bloomington, Indiana: April 5
  • Chicago: May 11-12
  • Englewood, Colorado: March 16-17
  • Houston: Nov. 2-3
  • New York: Sept. 28-29
  • New Orleans: June 6-8
  • Portland: July 27-28
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: May 3-4
  • San Diego: June 28-29

Keep up with my calendar.