Writing and Designing Effective Communication: A Comprehensive Course

From left to right: Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, Jann Keenan, EdS

From left to right: Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, Jann Keenan, EdS

Jann Keenan and Janet Ohene-Frempong gave a daylong workshop. They provided detailed strategies for how to communicate effectively through both print and online materials. They used samples to illustrate what works and what doesn’t work.

“Health literacy is a subset of health communication,” said Ohene-Frempong. “How we communicate — across all these different media — that’s the issue. The other issue is navigation.”

The presenters explained the reader-centered approach: to engage, support, and motivate readers. And they offered tips for how to implement this approach.

We all have our preconceptions and ignorance. “Each of us is in our own little universe,” said Ohene-Frempong. “That’s why you need to check with the end-user.”

The presenters discussed how to write effective materials. They offered tips on content, organization, and style. They also discussed effective design and page layout.

It’s important to raise awareness in your designer about why design needs to be done a certain way. “You need to get buy-in early on,” Keenan said.

“There tends to be a tension between information and space,” said Ohene-Frempong. “If the information you’re giving readers is crucial, you don’t want to cut out information just to make space. You need to be an advocate for your reader.”

The presenters explained how to assess the readability of text and design and told how to use readability tools and field-testing. They discussed how to revise text and design to improve readability. They also told how to plan a writing project.

The workshop included two group exercises: a writing exercise and a revising exercise. The presenters led the group through the exercises step by step.

“If you have one takeaway from today, it’s that you really have to write for your reader — write for your end-user,” said Keenan. “That’s the only way to make the material clear and effective.”