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PALNI Communication Manual: Communication Best Practices

Best practices for overall communication beyond the library

  • PALNI internally should all know the external messages
    • Ensure that everyone internally is completely informed about what you are communicating externally. Internal PALNI people shouldn’t be surprised learn something “new” from your message targeted to external stakeholders. Anyone in the libraries could potentially be asked for more information about what you’re communicating to stakeholders. Everyone in the library acts as a secondary spokesperson.
  • Don’t rely on trickle (top) down communication. Instead, revamp your communication for your various stakeholders.
  • Utilize already used platforms to deliver your message
  • Don’t rely on email.
    • The average person gets 50+ emails a day. Select multiple platforms to deliver your message.
  • Cross post communication pieces on PALNI’s social media accounts and internally.
    • This spreads the message as well as gives the rest of PALNI a heads up about what is being shared to their campus stakeholders.
    • Ex: campus newsletters/papers, campus-wide emails, committee meetings, etc.
  • Give bite-size information frequently instead of the whole dinner one time.
    • This helps avoid information overload and assists in memory recall.
    • Additionally, set a timeline with deadlines. Make a plan for regular communication instead of “one hit wonders”
    • One easy ways to sprinkle communication is to set times to acknowledge progress. We often talk about when we start something and end something but people like to also know progress is being made. Big successes take time and acknowledging progress keeps people informed, builds trust, and keeps your project at the forefront of their brains. Side benefit: you also get feedback and personal involvement along the way.
  • Ask for feedback, often.
    • Feedback from multiple people throughout the message drafting.
    • Be sure to ask someone unrelated to the service/resource/initiative you are communicating about to review the final draft. They will give you an outsider’s perspective.
  • Give props/kudos/high-fives internally after communication is done.
  • Make time to assess and adapt.
    • Evaluate your past communications and see what you need to improve next time.
    • Ex: timing? Platform? Partnerships? feedback/review process? Something can always be improved

Best Practices when presenting to stakeholders outside the library

  1. Be Early - There will ALWAYS be tech problems. Give yourself time to fix them and relax before you speak.

  2. Use a handout! - this will be key to eliminating design problems with your slides later.

    1. Famed visual designer, Edward Tufte even takes a full 5 minutes at the beginning of his presentation to review a handout before speaking and a full 30 minutes of required reading before that. He understands the value of getting people on the same page with the basics before diving into the meat of his talk.

    2. Taking 15 minutes to read before your presentation may not be possible for you. Instead, and what I’ve employed with my one-on-ones with my own boss, is to send them any materials or notes to read before our meeting. It wastes less time going over details she doesn’t care about yet she’s aware of everything I am working on.

    3. It’s also a nice takeaway for the audience.

    4. Most presentations are meant to cover the basics and the big picture, not the details - that’s what your handouts, website, link lists, etc are for.

  3. 2-3 Main Points - Open with your 2-3 main points so they know the structure of your presentation. People brains are wired to recognize patterns and flow.

    1. Jobs didn’t invent this idea, he just capitalized on it. Every keynote he ever gave had 3 main points which he told the audience at the very beginning. It helps the audience to follow the presentation even when the details got very technical.

  4. Add gestures for memory recall - Your mind is connected to your body and your body to your mind. You’ll remember your points as you go through your “choreography.”

  5. Practice - This is an obvious one. But, the goal is to make it look natural. Like you DIDN’T spend an insane amount of hours on these presentations.

  6. Utilize the 10 minute rule - Your brain can’t handle listening longer than 10 minutes - you have to do something emotionally engaging at each 10 minute interval - tell a story, show a video, do an activity, etc. I’d argue that it’s even shorter for presentations that are numbers intense.

  7. Avoid ambiguous buzzwords.

    1. Stakeholders hear these words so much that they’ve lost their meaning. Ex: They may consider their morning coffee more of a “strategic resource” than your service. #ouch

  8. Lead with your key point(s) and keep them few. People often only read the first few sentences.

Best practices when creating content for communicating outside the library

  1. Remember: Decision making is mostly emotional, not rational

    1. Research shows that decision-making is inextricably tied to emotion. The part of your brain linked to rationality and decision-making, the orbitofrontal cortex, and the part of your brain associated with emotion, the amygdala, are often working together when you are processing higher thought.

    2. Your slides and presentation should activate the emotional part of their brain. Your handouts and documentation gives them the intellectual confirmation that the emotional sale is legit. Use facts and numbers to bolster your story, not tell it.

  2. Include the big picture and how your message is connected to it.

  3. Use visuals

    1. people only remember 10% of what they read but will remember 65% when accompanied by a informational visual.

    2. Programs:

      1. Piktochart

      2. Canva

      3. Google Draw

      4. Google Charts

      5. Excel charts

  4. Use metrics

  5. Use analogies

    1. this is especially needed when communicating very “librarianesque” topics and lingo. Relate the topic, process, resource, or service to one that is generally well-known.

  6. Include your contact info EVERY time.

    1. You may even want to include where a person can find you in the library for face-to-face.

  7. Use Testimonies

    1. Choose a testimony from a person that means something to your audience.

      1. Ex: student testimonies about the value of a service or peer-faculty

  8. Always include a call to action, even in informative pieces

    1. Ex: Learn more, for more details, participate here, etc