Jon Moon

Clarity and Impact

Past emails - mostly 2019 on

Below are some past emails (I've removed stuff that's no longer relevant, e.g. Course dates). Over time, I'll add more emails. Most can be read in less than six minutes.

A warning: for many topics, these free emails don't give all the answers, because a two-page email isn't long enough to answer all questions, consider all scenarios, address all concerns. 

However, my 310-page book is long enough. Click here to buy it, it's got loads more in it. 

Index to topics (nos of emails in series shown in brackets)
- The 2020 series on communicating (7)
- How to impress bosses with your 'Executive' Summary (7)
- Board packs: are yours too big? Too rubbish? (2)
- Trendy topics you should mostly avoid (7)
- Colourful thinking - colour in reports (2)
Decks (5)
- Using the right words; editing, etc (10)
- Structuring written work - what to put where, etc (5)
- Showing numbers - tables, graphs, RAGS, etc (6)
Presenting (1 - more to follow in 2024)
- The UK Govt Covid Daily Briefings (5)
- Not got much time? Quick sundry stuff (4)


The 2020 series on communicating
1: Introducing the series; popping myths
2: Persuading
3: More on persuading
4: Ever read something, but can't answer questions on it after?
5:...part 4 (cont) - and how to improve pitches
6: One key message (plus something for 'decks')

And let's add one more to the series that came out later:
What to do when telling bosses something they might not like


How to impress bosses with your 'Executive' Summary
(Thought: why 'Executive'? Why not just 'Summary'?)
1  How to do a great Summary
2  ... Even if your one-pager has 47 numbers
3  More benefits to this great 'Summary' layout
4 (Digression: why do bosses accept bad summaries?)
5 Making the Summary layout look sharp
6 The final steps: making it look coherent; adding insight

Finally, here's a tough litmus-paper test to apply to Summaries to see if they're good. Try it on your Summaries.


Board packs: are yours too big? Too rubbish?
These look at templates that prescribe content, not format.
Part 1 - why templates often make Board packs worse
Part 2 - how to avoid problems that templates create


Trendy topics you should mostly avoid
Icons - why most are pointless 
Infographics - why you should eschew them
Word Clouds - why they're rubbish... and what to do instead
Story-Telling - often just a bit of a power trip for bosses
Auto-shapes - how to look clever even if you've nowt to say
'Ted talk' books - read them with much scepticism 
Showing 19 squares to convey '19' - and what to do instead


Colourful thinking - colour in reports 
Problems that colour creates; plus tips, hints, etc
Part 1 - why I eschewed colour in internal reports at work
Part 2 - tips for using colour 


Decks (reports written in PowerPoint and emailed to people)
May '21, my emails started a series on decks. Here's the first.
Decks' identity crisis (or: avoid truncated English)
Decks: why they're so awful, plus stats and a neat video
Decks: why slide sorter can be so evil
Decks: why their lists of 'key issues' are often just lazy thinking
Decks: what to do instead


Using the right words; editing, etc
Several of these appeared as two-parters over two months.

Making writing more human (1) - use verbs, not nouns
Making writing more human (2) - a great wee word to use

Abbreviations - HTAGWT (How To Avoid Grief With Them)
Abbreviations - more, including a staggeringly bad acronym
Jargon (use the business's jargon, not the jargon of business)

Struggling to grasp a paragraph? 'Non-linearity'...
Grammar (& Van Halen & Spinal Tap) - a very popular email 
Adjectives - why most are bad or pointless
Don't always be positive (or: the joy of being negative)
Hard-core editing - when every word counts


Structuring written work - what to put and where, etc
The first 30 seconds of your report
Objectives - why they often hinder
Great writing that files in the face of perceived wisdom
Pushing on closed doors

Rolling out new-look reports - and get past trouble-makers too 


Showing numbers: tables, graphs, RAGS, etc
The first of these two has numerous tips for decent tables too.
Part 1 - results over time, i.e. trends
Part 2 - results at a point in time, e.g. a survey

Also on numbers:
Rounding numbers - different ways to do it
Red-Amber-Green reports - why most are bad (pdf)
Making small numbers look even smaller - sneaky 'table' formats
Finally on this topic, a 1980s video - click, read, watch... it's fun


Why most don't work, and how to make yours great
Part 1 - the problem with a page of graphs
Part 2 - removing distractions
Part 3 - in rows or columns? And a Paul Simon song...
Part 4 - making readers' lives easier... and Paul Simon again
Part 5 - making it sharp... and Paul Simon (yet more)
Part 6 - conveying messages... and Paul Simon once more
Part 7 - how to stop others doing bad charts


Presenting (more to be added soon)
Slide myths ("how many people does it take to do slides?")


The UK Govt Covid-19 Daily TV Briefings
(And fear not, I don't take political pops.)
What the Briefings lack... thankfully
Graphs: tips from Briefings - formats, typography
Graphs: tips from Briefings - comparing across countries
What happened to slides in May 2020? 
Conveying comparability


Not got much time? Quick sundry stuff  
Clarity versus accuracy - and lawyers and gibberish
Clarity versus brevity - or: why brevity is over-rated
Fonts, double spaces - and numbers, Spotify, fraud, film scripts
Review of 2017: is work becoming even more ironic?