Key takeaways

The value of clear communication for all
Simplify language and avoid jargon for clarity.
The value of clear communication for all
Provide concise information to avoid overwhelming
The value of clear communication for all
Use visuals and accessible formats for inclusivity

The cornerstone of all human interaction is how we communicate. It is how we successfully or unsuccessfully exchange ideas; how relationships develop or become damaged; and how goals are established, achieved, or fail – it depends on how well we communicate.

As a communications professional, throughout my life and career, I have learned a lot from both neurodiverse family members and team members. For me, the big revelation is that making these small adjustments would make any communication more effective; help avoid confusion and provide more clarity for everyone, neurodiverse or not.

10 effective communication tips learnt in the field from neurodiverse professionals

  • Keep it short and simple – use everyday language and do not use jargon or metaphors. Neurodiverse people tend to process words and information literally and most people are busy. If you want someone to read what you write, or listen to what you say, then keep it short and simple.
  • Be specific – Stay short, simple, and specific. Avoid unnecessary or irrelevant information. Be clear on the purpose of what people need to know, why they need to know it and what you want them to do. Information overload can overwhelm anyone, and especially neurodiverse people.
  • Be focused – Structure sentences with one message at a time, rather than including two messages in one sentence. This helps both neurodiverse and neurotypical people have more clarity and helps to avoid confusion.
  • Use visual signposting – Breaking up text by using bullets, or information type by using colours, sub-headings, and space. This can help anyone visually process information better and can also reinforce visual memory.
  • Use simple images – Using simple imagery can help neurodiverse and neurotypical people quickly convey specific themes of content and help processing for both neurodiverse people and those who may not be reading in their native language.
  • Use accessible fonts, colours, and materials – Use simple fonts like Arial or Calibri which make things easier to read. Toned backgrounds can also help to block sections of information and can also reduce glare. This can make reading more accessible to neurodiverse and neurodiverse colleagues.
  • Avoid acronyms – Keeping up with acronyms can be confusing for anyone. If you must use them, always spell out the full phrase, followed by the acronym. This helps anyone, especially if people are processing another language or listening to audio.
  • Use closed questions – Using closed questions to capture information is important as it relates to the need for specific information. Open questions are ambiguous and are difficult for many people to navigate, especially neurodiverse people and those who are not communicating in their first language. You can achieve the same thing, but you may need to use a series of closed questions to get there – think ‘ChatGPT.’ Nobody wants to feel foolish by answering inappropriately.
  • Be clear in email ‘subject lines’ – Use specific topics when drafting an email subject line to ensure the reader is clear on which of the topics you are talking about. This is critical for neurodiverse colleagues but a great way to avoid confusion for anyone receiving an email when you may have multiple projects underway. It is also important, if changing or adding to the email trail discussion, to then change the subject header accordingly. An added bonus is that adjusting the subject line makes it easier to find the email later.
  • Direct actions by name – In assigning roles, responsibilities, or actions to take forward, always use the person’s name. This is particularly important for neurodiverse colleagues and helpful for any group to have clarity on the expectations of each individual.

Embracing diversity and inclusion is not a once-a-year event enjoyed on social media or a box-ticking compliance exercise. It requires us to change - as individuals, as teams and as organisations; and requires genuine actions to create positive impact and change.

It also requires empathy and empowering others to experience The Power of Being Understood.


The value of clear communication for all
Lea Pateman
Head of Marketing Communications
RSM International