Health communication covers a lot of territory – from awareness of pubic health issues to altering behaviour or influencing attitudes at an individual or community level.
And let’s be honest, information about health can be confusing.
Medical terms, medication names, theories and practices – it’s not a language most of us feel comfortable with. And we generally don’t hear it at a time when we’re set to absorb complicated explanation, nuance and detail.
But it’s not enough to have important information. It’s not enough to have cutting-edge research. It’s not enough to have considered, thought-out plans and procedures.
You need to be able to communicate these ideas effectively. To have a strategy that encourages health changes in individuals and communities.
You have to let people know how they can make their lives better.
Always start with the why.
Are you educating about health and sharing information? Encouraging a change in behaviour? Creating awareness about a disease or product?
Find out who your audience is.
Do you want to talk to Health Care Professionals? Their clients? Engage Mass media or connect at a grass roots level? Do they have specific cultural and linguistic needs?
You want to know what motivates your audience, what they think, what they do. (We’ve written blogs on the benefits of Empathy Mapping for this – contact us if you’d like some help).
Consider the best way to express your message. Is it step by step directions, or personal stories that work to address public health concerns? Think about your language, style, materials and format. What’s the clearest way you can communicate your important health message?
Because the more we know, the better we’ll be.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer”
Albert didn’t speak until four, nor read til he was seven.
Early failure didn’t stop him.
JK Rowling had her first Harry Potter manuscript rejected by 12 publishers.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime.
Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’.
Fail. Fail. Fail. Yet they didn’t stop. They kept at it.
Many of us fear failure so greatly, that sometimes we don’t even try.
And that’s just crazy.
Glorious failures litter the history of food, science, business, art and literature. Inventions that would never have occurred. Diseases that would never have been cured. Failure is an experiment that hasn’t worked. But the process, the methods, the learning? They teach us something we didn’t know before.
Thomas Edison failed 1 000 times before making the light bulb.
Sir Alexander Fleming spoiled a bacteria sample and discovered penicillin.
As the bankrupt businessman and then successful Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford said,
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”
Failing is the most excellent way of finding out what doesn’t work. It’s a necessary step to success. It should be embraced and encouraged. Because breakthroughs, innovations, inventions - these come from people who are prepared and supported, to take risks.
It’s really hard to be right first time, every time. Especially if you’re pushing the envelope, or looking to do something new and different. So be brave and risk failure. Encourage others to try the unexpected. Join forces and experiment. Choose the course with the least predictable outcomes. Do something different and be challenged by the results.
It makes life so much more interesting.
Matt is Chief Doodler at Sketch Group. He has contributed to several books on visual thinking, most recently The World of Visual Facilitation.