Communication skills are important for all professionals, especially those in public health. Good communication will help you present research, relay information to community members, coordinate with co-workers, and build relationships within the public health field. Developing your communication skills has many rewards. Be sure you document your experiences that involve the use of these skills.
Effective communication will help you at any position in the public health sector because:
It helps relay information back and forth between departments at work, colleagues in the field, clients, and community members who may be asking questions.
There’s a need to interpret in depth critical analysis in reports to client services.
You must be able to communicate with your team in order to further the mission of the organization.
Communication is also very important within the community you serve.
Think about the patients, patients’ families, or the victims, and communicate information according. They could be children, parents, elderly, etc.
To communicate research or an intervention, coordinate with organizations that serve these populations. The patients might not care about the statistics and analysis if they can’t understand why it’s important to them.
Need to be able to listen and relate to the community. Being able to speak effectively is one part of it. But being able to hear and understand is just as important.
Communicating is challenging, but even more so when the populations are vulnerable.
The stakeholders (could be caregivers, owners of businesses, organizations) also deserve great communication for many reasons.
Businesses and organization that serve your population are important keys to understanding and helping the community. You want them to understand your vision and mission.
You need to understand the needs, restrictions, and rules related to the industry/population you are serving.
It is important to build relationships, gain trust, and grow your own understanding.
Communication is an ever-evolving skill. Technology, health, and the world are always shifting and so does communication. Here are some different forms that can be used in different situations.
Written communication: Social media, brochures, fliers, emails, newsletters
Combination of written and verbal: promotional events, presentations, health fairs
Technology: social media platforms are useful to relay information and help plan events
Ways to develop and refine your communication skills:
Getting involved with a community through volunteering at a local health organization or faith-based community.
Lead a health promotion campaign online, through a faith-based community, your neighborhood, or other network you are already part of. You’ll learn who to contact about getting permissions and permits and how to contact them.
At work you can lead a lunch hour informational session and display a flyer about health tips in communal spaces.
Take opportunities to present health research at conferences, local meetings, or gatherings at work. Make sure you listen to questions from the community, and then clearly relay your information.
Disaster relief is another way to get on-the-ground public health communication experience by helping victims of natural disasters who are overwhelmed and also need information.