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

What creates effective communication? Educate AND entertain. Be Edutaining.

An audience is clapping and laughing

What creates effective communication? In this series of posts, I am proposing 8 principles. So far, we have covered the first four:

It’s time for principle #5: Educate AND entertain. Be edutaining!

Huh? What’s that?

What does it mean to be edutaining?

Communication doesn’t have to be either educational OR entertaining. It can be both. To “edu-tain” is to provide accurate, audience-focused communication using methods audiences find entertaining as well as informative, such as stories, videos, and demonstrations.

Edutainment increases enjoyment, learning, retention, and improves outcomes.

To be an average communicator… Stick to the facts. Keep it serious.

To be an amazing communicator, who effectively communicates… Consider creative approaches to present your message. As appropriate, use humor, drama, action, or artistic expression.

Entertainment enhances education. Why? Because human attention is limited and easily distracted. To capture and maintain attention, be creative. Be entertaining.

Entertainment also promotes memory by creating more memorable experiences. To be remembered, be entertaining as well as educational. Be edutaining.

What are strategies for edutainment?

Edutainment combines entertainment with education, so determine ways to present the information that makes learning fun and memorable. It’s easier than you might think…

  • Begin with a great hook. Use the element of surprise or something that elicits a laugh.

  • Tell a captivating story. Draw the audience in.

  • Demonstrate what you are teaching. Do it with flair.

  • Show and tell with pictures and video. Select them well.

  • Incorporate humor tastefully. Elicit a laugh but not hurt feelings.

  • Have fun even if not purposefully “funny.”

These strategies are described in greater detail in Section 5 of Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide. Make your writing, videos, demonstrations, and photography edutaining!

What are the action steps to creating edutainment?

Consider your answers to these questions:

  • What approaches are appropriate to entertain as well as inform my audience?

  • What approaches have the greatest appeal to my audience?

Although your answers will vary with the audience and the situation, don’t discount the power of being edutaining. If your purpose is to educate, include entertainment. If your purpose is to entertain, include education. Be edutaining.

What does this look like in real life?

After retiring from teaching future nutrition professionals to be effective communicators, I wanted to create a signature presentation that would address a problem common to all nutrition and health professionals: miscommunication.

I decided to step outside my comfort zone and incorporate humor along with serious statistics and practical advice. I created “Miss Communication” complete with a beauty pageant sash to wear onstage.

Barb Mayfield wearing Miss Communication sash

I created 10 beauty pageant contestants who personified many of the most common types of miscommunication. An artist created images of each one to help audiences visualize them and what they represented.

Miss Communication Characters

Audiences met Miss Understanding and her fellow contestants, heard their stories, and voted on which ones they found most challenging in their personal and professional lives. They also learned practical solutions and strategies to be more effective communicators.

Miss Communication and these characters made the presentations edutaining – both entertaining and educational.

Your turn – how can you edutain your audiences?

“I think you learn more if you’re laughing at the same time.” ~ Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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