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  • Writer's pictureBarbara J. Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

3 Steps to Jump-Start Your Journey to Communication Excellence

Overview of 3 steps to jump start your journey to communication excellence

Honestly answer this question: How often do you “communicate nutrition” in your current work setting?

Is it… Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Occasionally? Or, only rarely?

If you think you “communicate nutrition” only occasionally or rarely, you may be limiting your thinking to the big stuff, like media spokesperson work or giving a presentation at a national conference, but it is so much more than that!

The reality is…

Everything you do as a nutrition professional involves communication – teaching one client or a class, writing a newsletter article, creating and promoting nutrition messages, posting on social media, and even talking with colleagues and clients… nutrition communication takes many forms.

As we titled Chapter 1 in Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide, “Communication is the Essence of Nutrition Practice”! However, it is the rare dietetics program that teaches a course in nutrition communication. Fortunately, that is changing. But that means those in practice may feel ill-prepared to communicate well.

Can nutrition professionals achieve communication excellence? Yes, one step at a time.

How can nutrition professionals improve their communication skills?

Skill-building requires both gaining knowledge and putting it into practice. Communication skills are best learned by doing. Plan and prepare, then DO, and finally, reflect and learn from both your successes and failures.

The following 3 steps, easily remembered with A, B, and C, can jump-start your journey to communication excellence. Download the free guide and get started today!

A.     Assess your starting point.

B.     Begin with your goal in mind.

C.     Chart your course.

Let’s look at each one. Follow along in the guide and put it to work for you!

Assess your starting point.

You will accomplish this by completing a self-assessment of your communication knowledge and skills. You will ask yourself “Where am I skilled and where do I have room to grow?”

The free guide has a table on page 5 with 12 key areas of nutrition communication to assess your level of knowledge and skill. You will determine where you fall in each area using the following scale:

  1. Absent or very limited Little or no experience, have not studied or been taught about

  2. Interested, but hesitant to take on or limited access to practice Some degree of interest, concerned about your ability to learn or practice

  3. Emergent or growing and seeking out practice Starting to learn about this area, seeking more information and opportunities

  4. Growing with frequent practice Learning, practicing, and improving, desiring to achieve more

  5. Proficient or Expert Considered an area of expertise, able to teach others

Don’t overanalyze your responses and don’t worry if your interpretation of the levels is the same as anyone else’s, you do you.

Begin with your goal in mind.

Are you familiar with Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? The second habit is “Begin with the end in mind.” Determine your desired destination.

The question to ask is “Where and how do I want to improve this season?” This isn’t your ultimate destination, just where you want to get to next, right now.

Your next task is to look over the table on page 5, and then prioritize up to 3 areas in which you have the greatest interest or need to improve your knowledge or skill and list them on page 6.

These can include areas in which getting from Point A to Point B requires just a small increase in knowledge or skill. It can also include areas in which getting from Point A to Point B requires a large increase in knowledge or skill.

Base your choices on what you most need to learn and practice, and, on what interests you most. Just like when you work with a client on making changes, you will not work on every area simultaneously.

Write a brief description of the 3 areas you select in the left column of colored boxes on page 6 and a description of what excellence looks like in the boxes on the right.

Chart your course.

Finally, map the actions that will move you from Point A to Point B. Select one area to tackle first and chart your course using the prompts on page 7. 

Begin your journey by learning and building your knowledge with Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide and other sources.  Then select a practical application to put your knowledge to work and to practice your skills.

We learn nutrition communication best by doing – so you will make a growth plan with action steps and deadlines and put it into practice.

Repeat A, B, and C for continued learning and growth.

Envision yourself successfully communicating with your target audiences with clear, compelling messages that engage and educate, create interest, and inspire knowledge gains, positive attitudes, and life-changing behaviors.

“If you can’t communicate, it doesn’t matter what you know.”

~ Chris Gardner

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