How you deliver a message is largely determined by who you intend to reach or what your target audience is. There are some universal health education principles to keep in mind, however, regardless the number being educated.
Health educators improve the reception of their message by using a brief reminder known as KISS, or "Keep It Simple, Stupid." Remember that any message, no matter how important and applicable, loses impact if it's too complicated, full of jargon or overwhelmed by detail. Clear, concise and consistent messages serve you well and are less likely to be misconstrued.
Another essential mantra for educators is that of "primacy and recency." Target audiences learn--and best retain--what they are taught first and last. Throughout the delivery of your message, utilize any opportunity for modeling. If you can get someone to practice a behavior or even recite an argument through role playing, he or she will be much more likely to change behaviors.
Finally, repetition of your message helps reinforce it. We refer to this as "Tell them what you're going to teach, teach them, then sum up what you just taught them."
-Chris Hafner-Eaton, Ph.D. "Birthing Our Message," Midwifery Today Issue 35
Reprinted from Midwifery Today E-News (Vol 1 Issue 24, June 11, 1999)
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