When we’re communicating to audiences about what might be complex infrastructure proposals, we need to account for different learning styles.
Some people learn best from what they see, others from what they hear and others by actually doing or examining something themselves.
Most of us have a blend of learning styles, abilities or preferences, and they tend to integrate more the older (and more practiced) we get.
Whilst it’s not possible to canvass entire stakeholder populations to find out their individual learning styles, it is nonetheless important to recognise that the people we’re communicating with will absorb information in different ways.
So, let’s imagine there’s a particularly important point you need to make about your proposed development, like how you plan to manage local environmental risks. To ensure that people get the right message, regardless of how they best absorb and assimilate new information, it makes sense to present it in multiple different ways and make it available across all your channels so people can choose what works best for them.
This could mean producing a shareable infographic, a short video, a podcast, a blog on your website and a fully referenced technical article (for those that learn best by reading the detail for themselves).
That may sound like a lot of work, but it’s better that than finding that significant sections of your relevant audience has gotten the wrong end of the stick - rework to correct defects is always more costly than getting it right in the first place.
TUI Airways (previously Thomson Airways) totally nailed this concept a few years ago. Its pre-flight safety information is a joy to behold - an engaging video featuring children acting out the roles of cabin crew and passengers is played to the captive audience onboard. As well as the moving pictures and the spoken word, key points appear written across the bottom of the screen. And then it’s all neatly summarised in the safety card in the seat pocket for those that benefit from the extra detail.
There’s no doubt that everyone onboard TUI flights will absorb the relevant information one way or another.
The great thing about this multi-layered approach is that it can help you improve your chances of getting your key messages heard, understood and retained, and also provides you with a range of communications assets that you can often repurpose and reuse at a later date.