Barbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Ask the experts… your audience!
Updated: Jan 2
How do you create effective communication for an audience?
Create it with the audience! Think about it… No one is in a better position to be aware of your audience’s questions and concerns, problems and pain points, or goals and dreams than your audience.
The audience knows best.
Chapter 14 in Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide lists six key characteristics of adult learners: self-directed, experts on themselves, skeptical, pragmatic and problem-centered, internally motivated, and autonomous. Read that list again – note how many are related to “the audience knows best”!
These characteristics apply to college students as well as other adult audiences. Therefore, as I was preparing to create social media content directed to the nutrition and dietetics students who will read and use the book, I reached out to students for input via preRD.org. This website matches nutrition professionals with students providing win-win experiences for everyone.
My initial request for assistance was focused on creating Instagram stories, with the intent of creating content that would capture the attention of students. The first student who responded taught me the fundamentals of creating stories.
While we were beginning this collaboration, additional students responded to my listing and expressed interest in helping. Rather than turn them down, I decided each student could provide new insights and ideas.
A second student suggested creating not only student-friendly stories on my current Instagram page but to consider creating a totally-new student-focused page. This seemed like a brilliant idea and I decided to pursue it. I invited all five students who signed up to work with me to form a team.
An Instagram team gets to work.
We started meeting during the summer, beginning with brainstorming sessions. Ideas were freely generated and shared. We collaborated over Zoom, shared documents via Google Docs, communicated via email and GroupMe, and created content using Canva.
Each team member contributed creativity, technology knowledge, individual skills and interests, and lots of enthusiasm. Key decisions included picking a name for the page, designing a logo, creating a profile, and determining the content to feature first.
The name talknutrition4students was selected from more than a dozen ideas generated by the group. It resonated with everyone on the team. It conveys well the dual concepts of communicating about nutrition and being for students.
Using design elements from the Communicating Nutrition book, logo ideas were generated and narrowed down to the final choice, pictured above. The profile describes the purpose of the page as follows:
The next decision was the types of posts to create and which ones to feature first. Our initial series includes three weekly posts: Monday’s posts feature one member of the student team with “Meet the Team” posts. This team member will be responsible for posts throughout the week.
Wednesday’s posts feature #WhereWeReadWednesdays with an image of the team member reading the book in a variety of locations. Behind this post will be a favorite quote from the book selected by the team member.
Friday’s posts share a student success tip from the book. In between, Instagram stories will provide additional engaging content as well as featured posts. The first week introduces the page and me, Barb Mayfield, who will mostly remain behind the scenes.
Future ideas include interviews with nutrition communicators and student success stories. Students who follow the page are invited to submit their own photos reading Communicating Nutrition for #WhereWeReadWednesdays posts along with their favorite quotes from the book. Students are also encouraged to submit questions to help determine content to feature from the book.
Audience involvement is the key to communication success.
Working with the audience to design communication takes the guesswork out of content creation. As the subject matter expert, the nutrition communicator can offer potential answers, clarify confusion, and suggest evidence-based action steps, but it is the audience who has the final say in whether the communication is meaningful, memorable, and motivating.
When a message comes from a trusted peer audience member, with expert, evidence-based support, the message will be more likely to be attended to, engaged with, and bring about the desired result.
How do you create effective communication for an audience? Create it with the audience!
Learn more about talknutrition4students here: https://www.nutritioncommunicator.com/talknutrition4students
Follow talknutrition4students here: https://www.instagram.com/talknutrition4students
“People don't remember what we think is important. They remember what they think is important.” ~ John Maxwell
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