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Communicating with Numbers
This set of options is best after you have already explored the math and science of your community’s concern, and you have chosen the key fact(s) that you think is most important to communicate. However, you can use still some of these ideas early in a campaign, to help frame your task.
Establish the Basics
Who is your target audience?
- An official or board/commission - elected or appointed, seasoned or new
- Regulators with lots of technical knowledge
- A reporter with no technical background
- The general public – informed, outraged but uninformed, apathetic
What is the attitude of your audience?
- They agree and just need to be supported or spurred to action
- They disagree and need to be convinced or pressured
- They don’t know and need to be alerted
What is the setting for your message?
- A public hearing or meeting
- A private meeting or interview
- A flyer, fact sheet, or newspaper ad
- A rally or press conference
What is the format?
- Spoken: How much time will you have?
- Printed: How much space? Black and white? Text only? Color graphics?
Explore Strategies for Making Your Case
Given your audience’s attitudes, backgrounds, and priorities, and the setting:
Memorable Messages and Memorable Graphs can jump-start creative thinking about ways to present a key fact. If you don't have time or a group to do the activities, each has a handout offering tips for making memorable messages and graphs: choosing strategies, avoiding common pitfalls, and polishing your message and graphics.
If you’re making a fact sheet, flyer, or other print materials, Design a Fact Sheet can help you pull together all the work you've done above into a single product.
It's tempting to jump right to messaging before you've decided what's most important to communicate. If you don't yet have the key facts you want to highlight, look through the activities and resources mentioned in Drawing Your Own Conclusions and Pieces of the Risk Puzzle.
About Statistics for Action
Statistics for Action is a partnership between Toxics Action Center and TERC (sfa.terc.edu), and made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation (grant DRL-0812954). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or of TERC.
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