As speaker-elect of the Academy House of Delegates, one of my most exciting and challenging responsibilities is communicating clearly and openly with a variety of groups: the Academy House of Delegates Leadership Team, the Board of Directors, Academy staff and, most importantly, our Academy delegates and members.
So what's the best way to keep in touch with all of these interested parties? I use what I've learned from my 21 years of experience as a private practice RDN and active volunteer in San Antonio.
I have found that I have to be adept at a variety of communication technologies, depending on whom I'm dealing with — for instance, do I call them on the phone, video conference with them over Skype or send an instant message? In addition, I must be able to work wherever I am located. I am a huge fan of Apple products, and love the interoperability between my iPhone, iPad and MacBook. But there are occasions when I need to use software (such as the ESHA Food Processor) that only runs on PCs. So my tech tip for you is to consider using software that lets your computer run both Apple and PC software.
In my private practice, I primarily communicate to my clients through my website — which includes my blogs, clips of TV appearances, email, online business practices, and a health and nutrition history survey form that clients can complete and send to my inbox. Since I work with a variety of age groups, I must be up on new technologies (apps, social media) as well as traditional communications (phone calls). I electronically bill insurance companies and Medicare through private portals, and I try to use social media to market services to my referral sources. I have learned about the intricacies of social media and try to use the right communication form for the right type of social media. I'm currently using LinkedIn for professional opportunities, Facebook for both a personal and business page, Pinterest for my recipes, YouTube for my TV segments and Twitter for quick announcements.
The House of Delegates and Academy committees and boards all communicate on private message board websites. Meeting packets, minutes, discussions, manuals and policies can all be found on these sites. My technological skills have now moved further into online meetings and webinars, including co-producing documents and HOD design plans using Dropbox and Google Docs, and even remotely recording videos for Academy delegates and members.
I have learned that communications with clients and Academy members around the country is very challenging, even if you do have good technology and leadership skills. It is especially important to personalize your messages to each group you connect with.
One last tip: Have colleagues or staff review any text or script you use before you publish to locate any unintended meanings or sources of misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Words can become a real problem when your audience doesn't know you personally. Think twice before shooting off an email response. It can't be taken back!