Meeting #1: A network of scientists reviewed a new website design. They’d hired me specifically to help them create new discussions and communicate with non-peer audiences.
I felt their pain as we worked with the word “belief” and others that make sense in everyday conversation, but aren’t part of the professional language of science. We agreed in the end that some discomfort is necessary to expand the impact of their work.
Meeting #2: At a citizen summit, two talented analysts shared findings about data and its real-life impacts in their region. Unfortunately, the power of the information was lost on many because of jargon and lack of clarity about the big ideas.
These serious, skilled people care deeply about people, their work, and the environment. They communicate constantly and effectively with peers. They’re precise, disciplined and action-oriented, and they produce information we need. I’m privileged to work with them—and learn from them.
But if our communities are going to be life-giving now and for generations to come, we need to speak the language of everyday life and connect issues to it. We move from the heart, and the heart is moved by direct contact, imagery, uncluttered ideas, time to listen and think, and shared experiences.
To facilitate this, strategic communication deserves its due place in the work day and project budgets.