You spoke about a certain topic. You wrote about it, too. You even drew pictures explaining more. But will your audience understand and relate to the information you are trying to convey? The best way I know to find out is by asking.
Here are examples about how-to:
- Teach-back, for in-person communication. After talking about a certain topic, confirm that the other person understands by using a technique called teach-back. Start by putting responsibility on yourself, such as “I want to make sure I explained this clearly.” Then ask the other person to tell you in her own words what you just discussed. You might do this by asking a question like, “When talking with your son tonight, what will you tell him about this test you are going to have?” Then confirm what’s right and clarify what isn’t yet clear.
- Feedback, for written communication. It takes a team to create an understandable document or website. Team members should include 1) one or more subject matter experts, 2) a plain language writer who knows how to communicate clearly, and 3) several people representing the intended audience. Ask the team for general feedback along with specific questions such as, “Is ____ a term you think our readers will understand?”
- Advisory boards, for opinions over time. Chances are that some of your projects evolve over months if not years. In such cases I find it invaluable to work with a team of advisors who are familiar with the topic, intended audience, and project goals. Advisors also agree to periodically provide feedback. Make it easy for them by asking a limited number of specific questions along with a way to offer more general opinions. I have done this with great success on a wide range of projects including Health Literacy Month, my book, podcasts, and business initiatives. Working with this team has truly made a world of difference. Thanks everyone!
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