In this article, Carol Ainley highlights the importance of communicating with stakeholders and the various communication methods that are available.
In previous steps, you have identified your innovation idea, recognised who your stakeholders are, and started to develop your business case. To ensure buy-in and collaboration from your stakeholders, you need to be able to effectively communicate your ideas to your stakeholders. Your business case is one mechanism for doing this – a good business case will stimulate discussion and feedback. In this step, we look at further mechanisms for effective communication.
The first step is to identify which of the stakeholders you need to communicate with from the start. They can help to refine the project proposal. These are likely to be managerial and/or clinical leaders. They will have access to higher level ‘change champions’, leading to your proposal being heard.
As you identified earlier, there will be other stakeholders with whom you need to be communicating. Often, this will include lay representatives- patients, their families and/or carers, individuals who want to make a difference to their health service- and their background knowledge can be very variable. Therefore, it is essential that you are able to vary the phraseology of your message to suit your audience.
You also need to consider the medium you use to communicate about your proposal. Hard copies, e-mail, social media, word of mouth are all valid methods of communication and should, again, be varied to suit your audience.
Your communications should not be limited to individuals; your stakeholders may be organisations, and this may require a different form of communication.The Health Foundation has a helpful toolkit about communication with impact including helpful techniques for communicating with different audiences
Use the comments section to suggest some ideas of how you might engage with key stakeholders.