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

What creates effective communication? Plan for success and prevent failure.


A calendar, a computer, and a clock.

What creates effective communication? This series of posts shares 8 key principles. Thus far, we have covered these six:

Principle #7 is this: Planning ahead can prevent communication failure.


Think about it – have you ever attended an event or received a communication that fell short due to poor planning? Likely the answer is yes. Communication failure is all too common. But it can be prevented.


What difference does planning make?

Communication success entails more than creating a well-designed message. It involves the logistics of delivering the message, whether in-person or virtually. It includes functions such as marketing, moderating, audience management, answering questions, and evaluating outcomes. Plan well and execution will be less likely to fail.


To be an average communicator… Wing it. Who wants to plan ahead?

To be an amazing communicator, who effectively communicates… Attend to the details ahead of time so that while actively communicating your focus can be on your audience and successfully delivering your message.


“Careful preparation helps an event to come off with minimal problems and allows a nutrition communicator to concentrate on the reason for being there – to communicate effectively.”


Disaster can be an accident and often is, but success is not. Plan. Prepare. Prevent.


How can I promote success and prevent failure?

One word – preparation. Attend to the details. Think through every step of the communication process and anticipate what could go wrong. Have a backup plan.


Dedicate time and resources to more than designing and delivering the message and include logistical planning, marketing, evaluation, and more.


These strategies are described in greater detail in Section 7 of Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide and in these blog posts and corresponding tip sheets:

What are the action steps to being prepared?

Consider your answers to these questions:

  • Have I planned all of the necessary arrangements?

  • Do I have a plan for all components of the communication process?

  • Do I have a plan to evaluate the process and outcomes?

Careful preparation or the lack thereof can make or break success.


What does this look like in real life?

When preparing to give speeches, especially those that involve travel, I have learned to create timelines and checklists, and established some rules to live by, which include…

  • Never take the last flight to the destination to allow for delays.

  • Wear something on the plane that I will feel comfortable wearing to speak.

  • Always carry on my speech, flash drive, and props I can’t live without.

  • Arrive the day before I speak to never miss an engagement and get adequate rest.

  • Have a contact phone number for the program coordinator and make sure they have your number as well.

  • Communicate early and often! Double-check every detail!

Your turn – how can you prepare to communicate? Remember, success is not an accident.


“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ~ Abraham Lincoln


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