Any threat to the health of children raises high concern and an unfailingly emotion-driven response. This was the case when concerned citizens believed hazardous waste from an industrial facility had caused a cancer cluster in their region.
Called in as a technical adviser to a community advisory committee, Dr. Vincent Covello faced the challenge of helping the committee to understand the methods for determining what constituted a cluster.
Dr. Covello would also have to help them process often-confusing numbers, technical information and statistics.
The preceding is the case study that opens chapter ten of Dr. Covello’s most recent release, Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice. As readers will learn in this chapter, there are tools and techniques for conveying this kind of information, however challenging.
Our previous post previewed the ninth chapter of Dr. Covello’s must-have resource for risk communicators. Below we’ll look into the tenth chapter, “Communicating Numbers, Statistics, and Technical Information about a Risk or Threat.”
What You Find Within
The following are the topics covered in Dr. Covello’s book. In the section that follows, we’ll look more in depth at the tenth chapter.
- The Critical Role of Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communication
- Core Concepts
- An Overview of Risk Communication
- Development of Risk Communication Theory and Practice
- Stakeholder Engagement and Empowerment
- Communicating in a Crisis
- Foundational Principles: Perceptions, Biases, and Information Filters
- Foundational Principles: Trust, Culture, and Worldviews
- Best Practices for Message Development in High Concern Situations
- Communicating Numbers, Statistics, and Technical Information about a Risk or Threat
- Evaluating Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communications
- Communicating with Mainstream News Media
- Social Media and the Changing Landscape for Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communication
A Peek Inside Chapter 10: “Communicating Numbers, Statistics, and Technical Information about a Risk or Threat”
In this chapter, readers find guidance for communicating technical information. Based on a large body of research, this guidance will enable readers to
- Predict barriers to comprehension
- Recognize common practices that result in poor communication
- Predict how technical factors will be perceived
- Understand the role of emotions and feelings when processing technical information
As with each chapter, Dr. Covello concludes with an extensive list of resources ideal for further exploration.
In the next entry in this series, we’ll preview the eleventh chapter, which focuses on the important subject of how you evaluate your risk, high-concern and crisis communications.
Pathway Prompt: What challenges have you faced when communicating numbers and statistics?
Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide
More information about risk, high-concern, and crisis communication can be found in Dr. Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication.
This master class introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.
The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice. More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Vincent Covello
Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books.
Covello, Vincent T. Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2022.