How to sound appropriate in communication

“It aint what you do, its the way that you do it. That’s what get results, “so goes the old song. The same is even truer for communication. whether internal or external, the tone you use matters more than the content.Too many of us dispatch a memo or an email, conclude a speech or approve and advertisement thinking ” there , I’ve told them.Job done”.FullSizeRender

But people don’t feel obligated to do anything you tell them to do…… unless there’s a good reason .And their good reason may differ from yours. I was reminded of this when a saw a message from our friends in health development.

Few would criticise the motivation of the people who work in in public health.

But I have often found their communication problematic.Very often there’s an underlying tone that I can only describe as patronising. Talking very loudly and clearly to people who need help , but couldn’t possibly help themselves.

Clarity is often compromised by use of Aid language. Like any Jargon, this equips some people to appear expert while excluding outsiders.

So being exclusive and patronising are two self -created barriers to communication.

I’ve worked on many social and health marketing campaigns, approaching them as I would any commercial advertising project.Who must we persuade?What do they think and feel about the issue? What really matters to them – that we might be able to use in our messages? So I was disappointed to see a very poorly thought – through- message on the streets of one of our capital city last week.

The communication is intended to direct women into a nearby hospital for free surgical treatment.It is displayed very prominently on PVC banner (the medium of choice of the Aid world) strung across a very busy road. Such is the volume of traffic that the drivers of private and PSV vehicles are obliged to spend many minutes looking at it.

But am not sure that many of them are in the target audience.The banner is endorsed by a number of well – intentioned organisations, whose logos clutter the visual impact.

One of them is a leading media house which means TV and radio airtime have also been dedicated to the delivery of the same message.The times and dates of free treatment sessions are noted. But these are all secondary detail.

The primary message of the banner is worth recording here in full:” FREE Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Camp at Hospital X. Stop leaking urine and , or, stool after child birth. Reconstructive surgery will restore women’s dignity”.

I could pick apart this crass ineptitude piece by piece, but I think you take my point.So let me simply suggest a little Latin – Quod Erat Demonstrandum (QED).


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