Know the Audience, Break it Down, the Rest Will Follow – an Effective Communication Formula Across Fields

Effective communication across all fields requires that the individual who is presenting information knows their audience. Whether these audiences are a group of fellow scientists, state legislatures, or journalists, the information will not get across to them effectively unless the language is precise and the big picture concepts are understood. Otherwise, the audience may misconstrue what you say or not follow your train of thought.  

Sometimes to keep this train of thought, it is helpful to have a purpose statement. These statements are focused and break down exactly what goals you want to achieve when conducting research.  In academia, these can be standard forms of communication that all fields have in common and have some level of familiarity. Explaining topics without use of heavy jargon, but perhaps in a way that includes more explanation is required. For example, explaining the process of how proteins are made in the cell to a geneticist can be done in a sentence or two, but involve abbreviations of long scientific terms. It makes sense to me, but not to an equally-intelligent psychologist. So, breaking things down into a story is often an effective way to show someone how something happens in the natural world. Likewise, someone in business can explain how the interest loan system works, but it will personally go over my head. To get though to me, I need all of the abbreviations explained. It is also important to cut out what is superfluous and what is key information. Personally, I over-explain topics, which can be beneficial or problematic, depending on how much the audience member knows. This problem is a reason why knowing the audience leads to more effective communication!

The Health Care Field is Full of Patients with Varying Experiences  

My professional goals include overseeing and caring for patients (I don’t know what career exactly yet). Patients will have a diverse spread of education, fields that they work in, or political views. With the current movement that is in the news, I saw a post on social media that said “to be a medical professional, you need to understand the social dilemma to care for your patients,” which I found to be very true. Keeping yourself immersed in other fields other than the one that you study will become important for aligning your work and care with those that a patient finds important. It becomes important whenever staying informed in politics, sociology, and communication can affect the quality of care that one gives. If you immerse yourself in topics that do not typically concern yourself, you can gain more empathy, understanding, and become more enlightened.

Communicating medical concerns effectively is important because these topics are very personal, sensitive, and protected by law for a good reason. Understanding effective communication can help soften blows to difficult diagnoses and treatments, especially when the patient does not understand the affliction the way that a medical professional does. Explaining these sensitive topics with a sense of empathy and without heavy use of scientific jargon, but offering reasons why the medical system does things the way they do is also important.

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