Quick career tips: Practice communicating technical content

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Show Notes

Today’s career tip spotlight is on practicing being a good communicator of technical content.

Communicating public health content to non-public health professionals such as decision-makers/management, communication team members, the public or statisticians and data scientists requires you to take the technical content that you are an expert in and translate it to a language they can understand. This is difficult!

Being able to effectively communicate health information is a valuable skill that you should build on as you progress in your career. Let’s not take for granted the knowledge we hold as public health professionals.

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Episode Transcript

Sujani 0:01
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Sujani 0:16
Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva, the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career. And today, welcome to another episode of Quick Career tips.

Sujani 0:41
So this episode is inspired by a conversation that I had a few years ago with a friend of mine. And we were reflecting on the amount of knowledge that we had gained in public health and how we actually took this knowledge for granted. And that the realization that we held this knowledge was notable to us only when we spoke with friends and family members who didn’t have a public health background. And I’m sure that many of you are also realizing it during our current situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. And what I know is that you too have this knowledge and perhaps are also taking it for granted. What I want to do today in this short episode is convince you that the true value of this knowledge doesn’t come from just knowing you have it, but rather from communicating it with various audiences, especially those who don’t speak the same public health language as you and me. So today’s Career Tip is practice being a good communicator of technical content, communicating public health content to non public health professionals, such as decision makers in management roles. A communication team, the public, or statisticians and data scientists, requires you to take the technical content that you are an expert in and translate it to a language they can understand. And this is difficult. If you’ve always worked with other public health professionals, you don’t realize that perhaps you need to build a new set of skills. That involves learning new vocabulary, and perhaps even new methods of explaining a concept. Being able to effectively communicate health information is a valuable skill that you should build on as you progress in your career. This skill comes in handy when you need to convince the right people to make an important decision. And when you help these decision makers understand complex concepts and see what you are seeing, it leads to a bigger impact, whether that’s in the direction that your organization will take its next step, or a project that you’re leading. So you might be wondering, how do I practice this skill, especially if I don’t have the opportunity to pitch projects or strategies to non public health professionals, easy look to your non work colleagues. So talk about your projects and work that you do to your parents or your partner or friends or other family members. Make it a point to take these opportunities to practice your communication skill, you will notice that you cannot simply throw around words that you are used to in public health, or you can skip out on setting the stage with a background of the situation. For example, you might have to define terms such as what is the social determinants of health. In my own experience, having conversations about my work with my husband, who is in the tech field, everyday has helped me become a better communicator of my work. Each time he asks me, “What do you mean by that?” Or “Why is that and so what it?” forces me to keep simplifying my message and ensure that I don’t assume the person’s knowledge or background, and this has helped me in my work. So what I’m getting at is, regardless of the type of role that you hold in public health, whether you’re a health promoter, an epidemiologist, a public health nurse, a researcher, program planner, or even an executive, we all share one activity in common at our jobs. And that’s health communication. And this activity is a very important one for us to practice. And so I hope this quick career tip will encourage you to think about prioritizing building of the skill of communicating technical content by actively seeking out opportunities to practice it and perhaps even further skill building through formal training.

Sujani 4:53
Thank you so much for joining me and before you leave, I wanted to let you know that PH SPOT has some great products for students early and established public health professionals on our website at pHspot.ca. You can check them out there. And if you want to see notes from today’s episode, head on over to pHspot.ca/podcast. And one more thing if you’re listening to this on Apple podcast, Google or Spotify, please do leave us a review so that other public health professionals know what to expect from our podcasts and for us to also know how you’re enjoying these episodes. And until next time, thank you so much for tuning in to PH SPOTlight.

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About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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