Notes from the Dean's Desk
Effective Storytelling to Make Your Message & You Stand Out
Jefferson College of Nursing will see many exciting developments in this New Year, as we continue building a great academic, clinical practice, and research institution amidst an ever-changing healthcare environment. Success requires not just doing our work in the classroom, at the bedside and in our conduct of research; we also must tell others what we’re doing and enlist them in supporting our work.
Producing this blog and overseeing JCN’s first two annual reports (a new one is coming soon!) has expanded my understanding of what we all must do to tell the story of the work we’re doing — and why it matters to society — in ways that touch and inspire those who hear or read it.
Whether you are writing for a professional journal or a mass-circulation outlet, speaking at an international conference or just to a neighbor, here are a few essentials to getting your message across and building support for the work you do:
- Be clear and concise. An academic paper must be detailed, with findings fully documented, but you also must organize the details to draw the reader in and hold their interest. For a lay audience, on the other hand, you must avoid professional jargon — explaining things in simpler terms with a more conversational approach. This is even more in important in a social media post, where space is limited.
- Use examples – and make the story personal, if possible. Use your experiences, or those of your students, colleagues, patients, and others, to tell a story that strikes home for your audience. Recently, JCN’s Shawana S. Moore, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-BC – an Assistant Professor the director of our Women's Health-Gender Related Nurse Practitioner Program – gave readers of The Philadelphia Inquirer an excellent insider’s view of the implicit racial bias that still plagues healthcare.
- Focus on why this matters. Facts and figures are great, but what’s the bottom line? How is what we’re doing critical to improving nursing education and/or patient care? That focus is a key to winning over a lay audience whose support (including funding, in some cases) is essential to achieving our goals.
- Watch for opportunities to respond to discussions in mainstream news outlets, professional publications and social media. Keep it short and make key points. Nurse leader Pat Ford-Roegner, a friend of JCN, co-authored an excellent letter to The New York Times responding to proposed federal regulations that would have allowed some care givers to discriminate against individuals to reflect their own personal prejudices. Meanwhile, through a network of professional women known as Those Nerdy Girls, JCN’s Dr. Aparma Kumar is leading national efforts to make sure people have the facts to make informed decisions to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus.
- Don’t forget the importance of your personal story. Create a one-page, lay-language biographical sketch highlighting your accomplishments – again, zeroing in on why your work matters. This will be the introduction many people have to you via the College web site, the list of speakers at an event, etc. (You can create a longer version for professional forums where greater detail is appropriate.)
How we tell the story of our work and position ourselves as leaders in healthcare is critical to achieving our goals and elevating the level of care. Competition for the future health care workforce is fierce. Parents, alumni and students look for the college making a difference. We believe JCN fits the bill!