Communications Toolkit for Academics

Telling Your Story

Step 2: Figuring Out the “So What?”

Step two is figuring out the “so what,” or why your communication matters. The answer depends on who you are talking to: your audience. In order to effectively communicate to your audience, think about what matters to them – their values, expectations and interests. Ask yourself:

  • What do they want to hear?
  • What might they want to say?
  • What do their audiences want from them?

Keep in mind every audience is different, so be prepared to modify the way you explain your message. For instance:

  • Policymakers want to know if what you’re saying supports or refutes their legislation and if voters care.
  • The public wants to know why your information should matter to them.
  • The media wants to know if it’s news and if their readers/listeners/viewers will be interested. Keep in mind that not all media have the same audience. The audience for Scientific American is different than the audience for People magazine.

Once you figure out each audience’s “so what,” you can customize what you say and write.

Step 3: The Message Box

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