Deborah Bosley — Plain Language: On Life and Meaning

deborah bosely

Deborah Bosley brings clarity to complex information. She is a plain language expert who re-envisions language so that readers might better understand and respond. She is owner and principal of The Plain Language Group, a consultancy that helps businesses improve internal and external communication. Her work includes developing and designing documents to meet plain language regulatory requirements, helping clients communicate more effectively, and serving as an expert witness on plain language compliance. Her clients include corporations, government agencies and professional firms. She is a former professor of English (technical communication) at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She has published extensively and has presented at conferences throughout the world on clear communication. Deborah earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing from Illinois State University.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in plain language and a personal journey of repairing the world one sentence at a time. 

In This Episode
In This Episode


  • Deborah explains technical communication and how it differs from other forms of communication.
  • She discusses how technical communication is informed by theories of rhetoric and psychology to create meaning and inform with empathy.
  • She shares how technical writing is different than just good writing and what good technical writers do.
  • She reveals what makes technical communication difficult to do and the difference between technical communication and plain language.
  • Deborah explains how plain language addresses terms of art or precision within what she calls discourse communities.
  • She offers her thoughts on whether Presidents Obama and Trump speak in plain language.
  • Deborah explains why she doesn’t market herself as a writer and how revising is something else entirely than editing.
  • She shares why plain language interests her and what motivates her work.
  • She reveals who she was as a child, where she grew up and what her family life was like.
  • She describes being in college in the 1960s and what she learned about herself.
  • Deborah tells stories about Eugene McCarthy, Norman Mailer, Grant Park and Woodstock.
  • She answers who she would rather listen to: Grace Slick or Janis Joplin?
  • She shares her career path from being a school teacher to an editor to a bookbinder to a professor and why she calls herself an accidental entrepreneur.
  • She talks about what she is reading, what feeds her spirit and how she is wiser today than when she was young.
  • Deborah shares what she hopes her daughter has learned from her.

Mark Peres adds a personal word that begins this way, “When I listen to Deborah Bosley talk about communicating clearly and the music of the 1960’s and helping others, she and I have a few things in common…”

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