Serif in Education

Becoming a powerful communicator

Good communication is about getting a message across in a concise and clear manner, with as little confusion as we can – something that requires more thought (or subliminal thought) than we realise possible.  Becoming a powerful communicator means not only conveying this message, but also assessing how this message is to be portrayed in the most effective way possible for your target audience.  This can be achieved in a number of ways; through written communication, oral communication, face to face contact or more.

In educational and learning terms, skills are encouraged and nurtured by teachers as part of the curriculum. As well as themselves considering the best ways in which to communicate with their students (whether this be through textual literacy, numerical literacy or visual literacy), teachers also need to equip their students with good communication skills. As early as Key Stage 1, children learn to speak clearly and fluently to different audiences, learning to adapt what they say to the needs of their listeners.

This led me to remember a real life example I was told about recently on the subject of communication.  A friend of mine (a teacher), recently posted on a social media site about their participation in a ‘speed careers’ event at their local school.  There was a group of adults, from different occupations, and the idea was for children to ask questions about their job role within two minutes, and then move on to the next adult.  The children were supposed to be able to find out more about their career choices and get enough information to allow them to make informed career choices.

The children had a set list of questions, devised by their tutors, which they were to ask each adult.  Not every career is the same (the two adults next to the teacher were indeed a banker and a gas engineer), and his view was that as not all children get the chance to usually talk to adults that aren’t their parents, they would benefit more from engaging in a conversation with him that would improve their communication techniques with these adults.  He felt that because not every child learns the same way, each child would benefit from being treated as an individual ‘learner’.  His answer was to take away their questions and ask them to adapt their own set!  Whilst it is arguable that he was perhaps undermining what the children’s teacher was trying to achieve, did he have at least one valid point?

People express ideas and record experiences through different mediums.  That could be through writing a diary, drafting a letter, creating a story or drawing or collecting keepsakes such as photos to help piece together their day.  And in a world where social media and the internet are now used millions of times per day, there may be a need to communicate with each other by utilising new technology and new methods of communication, or adapting older methods to suit this new technology.

At Serif, we believe in using a variety of mediums to communicate something. We love to encourage teachers and students to think creatively about ways in which they might like to present their work. For example, a written presentation could be made to ‘come alive’ in PagePlus, then turned into a video in MoviePlus, then transformed into an animation in DrawPlus… students can then share their work with parents and friends and start to communicate about what they were originally communicating!! We like people to think outside the box, and we provide the creative tools to enable people to communicate in a different way to which they might normally.

Just one minute of video equates to 1.8 million words. That’s according to Dr James McQuivey of Forrester Research Inc.  Videos and images can help people understand and envisage reality because they are almost physically present through connections with the video and their mind. And there’s no denying that people love watching videos – YouTube now attracts over a staggering 1 billion unique users with over 6 billion hours of video being watched every month!

So I will leave you with a final thought. Let’s take ourselves back to the first sentence on communication in this blog: ‘Good communication is about getting across a message in a concise and clear manner, with as little confusion as we can’.  Whilst they will never replace textual or numerical forms of communication entirely, visual creations such as videos or animations can help with that message, and help further understanding of a subject or subject matter.  And let’s not forget, they are a lot of fun to make and watch!