Have you noticed that Nigel Farage doesn’t use sub-clauses?

A politician can have unpalatable ideas. History shows that good communication can help the people swallow them.

Nigel Farage is able to position himself as different to the other politicians because he doesn’t speak like them. In particular, he shows himself to be a man of the people with a couple of simple verbal tricks.

Short Sentences are easier to understand. It’s that simple.

A recent study [see footnote] showed that if a text has an average sentence length of 8 words, people are able to comprehend 100% of the information. At 14 words long, people understood 90%.  At 43 words long, comprehension drops to 10%.

Calvin nonsense

Nick Clegg’s average sentence length is around 19 words.
Miliband sits around 13.5 and Cameron 15.
Farage’s is nearer 10.

Nigel Farage doesn’t use sub-clauses.

What is ‘political speak’? It’s about not answering the questions skilfully. It’s about hedging and qualifying your bets.

Nigel Farage is able to stand out because he doesn’t use sub-clauses when he speaks. Here’s what he said when he gave his opening comment on the ITV Leaders’ Debate:

“There are six other party leaders on this platform tonight. They might all look different but actually on some of the big issues that affect this country they’re very much the same.”

Compare this with Nick Clegg:
“I think it’s pretty obvious that no one standing here is going to win this election outright so you’re gonna have to choose, like you did last time, who’s going to have to work with whom.”

If you want to be viewed as straight-thinking, be straight talking. Don’t use sub-clauses.

Next week, we’ll be writing on which metrics you can use to measure the effectiveness of your brand copy and brand language. Until then, if you’re interested in how to make your point more clearly, email Chris.

For the record, the average sentence length of this article is 10.7 words.


[Source: “Readers’ Degree of Understanding,” American Press Institute. The research, based on studies of 410 newspapers, correlated the average number of words in a sentence with reader comprehension.}