Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Glass half full of oil On a recent layover in an airport I searched for something to read while waiting to board. Sitting right next to each other at a newsstand were two magazines with cover stories on—you guessed it—the oil spill. They covered the same topic, but take a look at the headlines: “What the Spill Will Kill,” and “How to Clean Up the Mess.” Which one would you have bought?

This anecdote illustrates a point that applies to more than print media: the tone of a message is critical. A reader only needs to glance at a few words to make a decision about the substance of the article, and as a consumer it took me mere seconds to decide that one article would be more useful than the other without reading a single sentence of either. Even if the content of the message is decidedly unfortunate, the way it’s communicated could make or break a connection with the audience.

Contributed by Elizabeth