When it comes to communication with the elders, I know that as a group, they’re very visual. I would never come in with a Powerpoint with lots of words. But they love a Powerpoint with pictures. It helps them to understand. I might even do a site visit so they can see something in person. It’s about knowing how to convey the message to the audience in the best way.
With staff, with internal communications, I find that multiple modes work because people learn in different ways. We have a communications team that’s responsible for sharing information. We have TV monitors at our work locations and use Brightsign to put up pictures and little notes about where people can go for more information. That’s in our lunch rooms and in our back of house of restaurants, so people can see them. But, we also have a system called Alert Media, where employees can sign up and choose how they want to receive information. Do you want to be contacted by email? By phone? We’ll send the information out based on their preferred method.
I think sometimes we under-communicate as opposed to over-communicate. Having those multiple modes is so important. In the case of Kwantlen, we have some people who don’t have access to computers, so we’ll use paper. We’ll deliver to them door to door. It’s about knowing your audience. If I send out an email, it’s only going to reach half my audience.
When I create visuals, I also make sure I really know the tool. There are new tools like Prezi that are neat, but if you’re not fully comfortable, it’s going to impact your confidence. And I always think about a backup plan in case things go wrong. I’m very comfortable with Powerpoint, but I bring paper copies because what if there’s a power outage. Things go wrong. But if you have a backup, it won’t impact your confidence.
With all of my grant writing, I use a lot of pictures. After I complete a grant, I’ll go through and ask how can I make this more visual? I find that the images really helps my grant stand out. They’re also a reference point. If someone’s trying to figure out whether I answered a question, they can use the photo as a cue. They might remember that information is on the page with the picture of a person weaving. So visuals are a good way to help people locate information.