Talking about your practice
This year, I volunteered to be a judge for the local Wagga Wagga Business Chamber Crow Awards. If you ever get a chance to judge an award, make sure you take up the opportunity. This particular experience was fantastic and reading through the entries became addictive. I also volunteered this year to judge the IFSHT inaugural innovation award which involved participating on an international judging panel. Both experiences were fascinating and I learnt some things that you need to think about!
This brings me to write about the process of talking about our practices. Do you have a particular way that you describe what you do and how you do that? One of the most interesting component of judging both those mentioned awards was the completely different ways that people went about describing in their application what they have achieved and how they went about that.
During the judging process, I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to contact at least half of the applications and say “tell me more!” – I didn’t, as that wasn’t part of the judging process, but I really felt those applications had disadvantaged themselves by appearing to assume I knew about their business and how things happened.
When we have been dedicated with a business, practice, project, idea, innovation, we can spend a lot of time loving it, working on it, staying up late thinking about it, talking about it to our families and friends, almost to the point where sometimes we know it so well and forget that others will not. Why were over half the applications I judged lacking detail? I could not work out why they had not told me more, or sold to me the success of their endeavours. I can only assume that it was because they had made their own assumptions as I would understand and be able to join the dots, or I had already heard about their work. Well, unfortunately, I was not able to connect the dots, as I didn’t work there.
So, this brings me to a most important point when we are describing our successes, talking about what we do in our practices, or sharing information about a particular group, innovation, or project...you have to remember people need to be provided with knowledge and education. Others won’t have the intricate details you have and it can be detrimental to just assume people will “get it”.
Examples of areas where you need to consider this process are:
• The wording on your website – does it describe what you do, how you do it and have you explained your services well (rather than just listing fancy words like ‘sensory processing disorder’)
• Networking and meeting people - Don’t assume because they know you from Saturday netball that they then know what you do for work. Don’t assume because you are at a healthcare convention, that people know what you do. You need to tell them! Practice an elevator speech – a 30-second description about what you do, why you do it and how you do it.
• Writing applications for funding or awards – please, please articulate to the judges or review panel the details of your success or your plans. Things I wished I had known about the applications I had reviewed included: how many actual sales lead to “ a great increase”, how many staff (including qualifications) lead to “we have expanded our team”, and what outcomes in terms of benefits to the community or target audience that lead to its success. Generalised sweeping statements did not help me get a good understanding of the application, rather left me feeling frustrated that I couldn’t find out more. If you are putting in an application for an award, you need to write your content as if the reader has never heard of you or your service.
My take-home message is people don’t know what you think they know. After 10 years in my practice, I am still amazed when people I have known for a while, don’t clearly know what I do.