I recently went along to Touch Design’s Open Space event. I was keen to think through, with colleagues, how as communicators we need to adapt our style and skill set to work smarter, and if necessary with fewer resources. The session I convened explored these ideas. This is what we came up with. It’s not rocket science; you’d probably come up with similar things yourself. But I thought it might be useful to share it anyway…

1: Confidence – to challenge, negotiate and influence. To ask people who think they need for example, a poster or a leaflet (i.e. a quick fix) more exploratory questions such as – ‘What are you trying to achieve?’ (to define a clear outcome from the start). ‘What do you want people to do differently as a result of this? Who are those people? How will you know when you have achieved it?’ (clear, measurable outcome measures to track your success).

2: Digital/online comms as a way of doing more with less – reaching more people more efficiently. Generate core content once and adapt it across a variety of digital platforms (e.g. social media, website, blog, newsletter etc).

3: Relationship management. Diplomacy. Build honest trusting relationships with integrity.

4: Manage expectations. Be realistic about what you can deliver. Don’t over promise.

5: Project management/workload management: to juggle priorities and get the work done to time, to budget, within available resources.

6: Self-knowledge and insight: know your own boundaries and limits of your own expertise. Know when it is appropriate to outsource work to freelancers.

7: Exploit technology. Get on board with remote working. There is no need to have people physically sat in an office. Use technology to achieve better time management/greater focus. e.g. smart use of folders within Outlook (email) to manage topics or clients.

8: Invest in your own learning: tools and techniques that enable/equip you to work smarter/do things better.

9: Do things once, with partners who have similar stakeholders. e.g. Not 11 separate newsletters to the same target audience.

10: Consolidate: Recognise that, as teams get smaller, you may have to become more of a generalist, rather than a specialist.

11: Two-way engagement rather than one way comms.

12: Collaborate, work across departments/teams. Be a connector within your workplace. Boundary spanning, networking, the ‘corporate glue’ to facilitate discussions between parties who may all be working on the same or similar initiatives.

Just some ideas. Hope that’s helpful.

For more on how to not just survive but thrive, why not come along to a workshop I am running in April? It will give you tools and techniques to develop your mental resilience, helping you to maintain your focus on the things that matter.

It's on 19 April in Birmingham. It's limited to 15 places and costs £249. Find out more and book your place here.

Carole Appleby, Communications Consultant, facilitator and Coach

Blue Horizon Associates Ltd

With thanks to my fellow session participants: Ali Marsland, Penny Strutton, Craig Trembirth and Vicki Burman. 

If you want to attend Touch Design's next Open Space event for Midlands based health communicators contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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