Defining communication objectives and structuring key messages.
For defining your communication objectives, think of what you want to achieve with your communication to the targeted audience. What is the purpose of the communication to the specific target group? For instance, it makes a difference whether you want to open or contribute to a debate, or to achieve a research collaboration. There are different ways to spread information depending on what you want to achieve. This goes for both general public and business target audiences.
Once your communication objectives are clear you can start structuring your key messages and adapting them to the media format and channels to be used. The format will heavily impact the structure of the information.
In general, it is recommendable to structure the information in several layers:
- quick and sound bites of information, giving an overview of what it is about;
- more explanation, but still fairly low level;
- deep and thorough information, including further background backing up documents (e.g. studies themselves). This is not just for people to read it, but also to show that your layer above it is grounded.
Even if it does not explain every single detail the information gets more credible and transparent this way.
To structure the information about your research, you can use a model used in writing courses. A page of information (e.g. webpage, poster) should have an OIA structure: Orient, Inform, Activate. The scope is to give 1) a general view of the topic, 2) to inform your target audiences, and 3) to stimulate their active participation or interaction. Inform and activate your audiences about current developments by, e.g., providing a steady feed of curated and summarized/explained knowledge; providing (raw data) or raw information; and providing information and knowledge on how to use/apply this information in their daily practice.
Standard report templates with an introduction to the problem, solution and conclusion section are appropriate for target audiences interested in technical details. However, to enable a low-level entry to the topic other formats should be used.