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Breaking Down Complex Policy Lingo for the Public


In a world where information overload is the norm, reading and interpreting legislative text can be a daunting task. This is true for both the constituent and the public affairs professional who may not have the time to wade through complex policy documents. However, the importance of understanding policy cannot be overstated, for both our country and our clientele.

There are ways to interpret policy in a way that is both media-friendly and effective. Here are some strategies to ‘whip’ the algorithm to align with a client’s policy priorities:


  1. Simplify, simplify. The first step in interpreting policy is to break it down into smaller, more translatable pieces. This can be done by summarizing key points or highlighting the most important sections of the document. Use plain language and avoid technical terms whenever possible. Additionally, consider creating visual aids like infographics to highlight key data points or illustrate impact.

  2. Provide context. Policy documents can be confusing and difficult to understand without proper context. When interpreting policy for the masses, it is important to provide background information and explain how the policy fits into the larger picture. This can help readers understand why the policy is important and how it will impact them.

  3. Tell a story. Policy can be abstract and difficult to grasp without concrete examples. Use real-world scenarios to help readers understand how the policy will affect them or their community. Tapping into the human element within can help to make the policy more relatable and easier to understand.

  4. Collaborate with subject matter experts. Interpreting policy can be a tall task, even for experienced professionals. Consider collaborating with experts in the field or on your team to get a second set of eyes on how you have translated complex policy documents into more accessible language. Experts can also help to provide context and answer questions that may arise during the interpretation process.


Interpreting policy for consumption by the masses is no easy feat, but it is a crucial task in communicating the policies that your clients care about. By breaking down policy into digestible chunks, providing context, humanizing the issues, and collaborating with experts, we can make policy more accessible to everyone and turn education into action to support policy priorities.

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