Tuesday, April 30, 2013

10 things communicators don't know about experts (and vice versa): My talk for #NCIPAN

An expert who insists her research is the "first" and "only" evidence, when it's not. Putting a researcher into a media interview on the federal budget sequester and squirming when he answered awkwardly, because he hadn't been prepped for difficult questions. High-level experts who insist they need no training, but misfire repeatedly when speaking, doing interviews, or interacting with key audiences like donors. 

Those were just some of the examples of communicators' challenges with experts during my session on 10 things communicators don't know about the experts they work with (and vice versa,) part of the National Cancer Institute Public Affairs and Marketing Network conference of communicators from NCI-funded cancer centers. To say it was a lively discussion would be an understatement, and I made sure communicators also heard about their foibles when interacting with experts. One communicator attending the conference wrote later to say:
Listening to a scientist speak at a later presentation, I had an ah-ha moment, by relating it back to what you said earlier in the day. The scientist talked about how it takes them years to do research and months to share it with colleagues, and then we come to them with this quick timeline of getting it out to the media and public.  This process is truly foreign to them, completely contrary to how they work.
You bet. But a few adjustments in how communicators work with experts can make the experience better for you and for them. Just keeping in mind how "completely contrary" our approaches are helps. Better yet: Learning the preferences, habits and concerns of the experts you work with--particularly around public communications--will save you hours of frustration and get better results.

If you're a communicator who works with smart folks--subject matter experts, scientists, engineers--you'll get that and more at my upcoming workshop, Be an Expert on Working with Experts. Set for June 13, this day-long session will help you figure out your experts' default communications style and how to work with, not against it, as well as ways to handle feedback, help them avoid "dumbing down" their information without sacrificing clarity, and more. 

As one participant in the last workshop said, "If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with @dontgetcaught, do it! Best training I've ever had. Informative and eye-opening." Register here--and don't forget, you'll get a substantial discount for signing up by May 16.

The slides below from my presentation at the conference offer a glimpse at what we'll cover in more detail in the workshop, and you can find other slides from the conference here. Will I see you at the workshop?

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