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4 Ways to Make Your Interviewees Comfortable On Camera


Speaking on-camera is hard. When you’re asking someone to be in a video, always try to remember how nerve-wracking taped interviews can be. Whether your interviewee is camera-shy or camera-ready, here are a few tips that will help ease stage fright.

  • Let your interviewee know that you’ll be doing several takes, so flubs are perfectly fine. Also, that you’ll be able to edit out pauses and “ums” from the final product.
  • Steer clear of teleprompters. Unless your interviewee is extremely experienced with a teleprompter, he or she will most likely look a deer in headlights when using one. Instead, interview them with the camera rolling. Ask the same questions several different ways. This will help you get several different takes on the same subject, so you can use the best answer. In this video by Baptist Health, the doctor is talking naturally to an interviewer and explaining the condition as he would to a patient.
  • Start with an easy icebreaker question or two, but be sure to keep your tougher questions at the beginning of the video. Most people tire a bit as the interview goes on. The optimum time for them to answer tough questions will be near the start of taping.
  • Talk to your subjects about wardrobe. In most videos, employees should wear what they would normally wear at work (in healthcare videos, scrubs, lab coats and suits are great). No stripes, as they can look funny on-camera. The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center video, Crushing Weight: Jacob’s Story, features a doctor in both scrubs and a button-down shirt.

Sarah Hawkins is a freelance writer, editor and researcher. Read more about her work at www.sarahbhawkins.com.

Posted by Sarah Hawkins

What Swing Dancing Can Teach You About Social Media


There are a few skills in life I feel like I can do better than most people. Like boiling water, leaving concise voicemails and giving really good high-fives.

Dancing has never been on this list.

Especially swing dancing.

Despite this fact, I decided to give it a try last week. If you’ve ever been in a room of swing dancers, it feels like you’re watching moving artwork. The room was filled with O’Keefe’s and Picassos, but I felt more like a three-year-old who was happy eating finger paint.

I started to think about how this feeling must be similar to hospital communicator who is just starting out on social media. You feel like everybody around you knows what they’re doing — they’re out having fun and making it look easy — you want to join, but you’re not really sure where to start or how.

As I stepped on toes and hit one guy in the head (I need at least a three minute warning before someone tries to spin me around), I thought about the similarities between the swing dancing scene and the health care social media community. (This was easier than me trying to figure out the difference between a 4-count and 6-count.)

And with that…a one-and a two-and a here we go:

Everybody is friendly

Once you tell people you have no idea what you’re doing, people are willing to help teach you. Actually, in my case, I didn’t have to tell anybody: it was pretty obvious I had no idea what to do with any part of my body.

But here’s something reassuring: Whether you’re learning about the intricacies of The Lindy (I thought it was short for Linda) or how to encourage doctors to get on Twitter, there’s always going to be people to help you learn.

Don’t know where to start? See all the great resources from Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. There’s a lively #hcsm chat on Sunday nights. Wondering what tools you can use to manage your social media accounts? Check out this comprehensive list.

Also, don’t be afraid about finding a mentor from another hospital. Unless it’s a hospital directly in target market, encourage one another and exchange ideas.

People want to teach and help you learn. We’re all in this together.

Dive right in — and then dive back out

My plan for the evening was to sit in the corner, drink my amaretto sour and watch everyone dance. I figured that if I watched enough people, I would magically transform into Ginger Rogers by the end of the night. However, some brave soul asked me to dance before I could go hide.

Let me try to explain how poorly I dance: When my dance partner told me to step left, it’s not like I got confused and stepped right. It’s more like I sashay sideways and awkwardly hop up and down. And then I start laughing hysterically.

If you’re just starting out with social media, you might wonder if you should just watch or go out there and try. At first, I thought it would be better for my sake — and for the sake of everybody around me — to just sit down.

But sitting down is boring. Social media is an active, evolving, dynamic, ever-changing space. Give yourself a timeline for how long you’ll observe, but set a definite date for when you’re ready to start opening up a new account. Just like in swing dancing, start by making small steps.

Also, remember to keep your expectations reasonable. Nobody is going to congratulate you for your first pin. Case in point:

“You dance wrong,” a guy said to me, after he saw me on the dance floor for less than 10 minutes.

“Well, at least I’m trying,” I replied.

And that’s the point of social media: It’s more fun to try and risk being “wrong,” than sitting down and getting drunk by yourself.

Find your own rhythm

I kept my eyes glued to my feet the whole night. I’m not sure why. My feet aren’t that interesting.

Every dancer kept telling me that it would be so much easier if I would look up — the flow would be better, there would be more of a connection and we would have rhythm.

I was too focused on myself. Hospital communicators can fall into this trap, too. They might only think about what they think is important to their hospital — Joint Commission, staff retreats, awards and rankings. But even though you deem it important, it doesn’t mean your audience will.

You can throw posts and updates at patients all you want, but if you’re not listening to them or moving with them, you won’t be on the same footing.

You’ll just wind up stepping on their feet.


Posted by Jessica Levco

5 Ways Improv Teaches You How to Communicate Better

Cocktails And Comedy Benefit for the Fit Community

There are a lot of people in my improv classes who dream of making it big — getting cast in a play, starting their own troupe, making it to SNL.

When I’m on stage, I just mostly dream about not throwing up and/or running off it.

But even though I’m not planning on performing in front of an audience, here are some reasons why taking an improv class can help improve your career as a communicator.

‘Yes, and…’

This is the biggest rule of improv and it’s a great rule to live by as a communicator. Basically, it just means that you’re not only agreeing to the person’s idea, but you’re also adding on to it. Imagine how much more fun conversations could be if you stopped saying, “No, I don’t really think so,” “Gee, that’s just not for us,” or “I can’t.” Saying, “yes, and…” to a client or co-worker keeps the conversation flowing in a positive, creative matter.

Besides, saying “no” is just boring.

Trust yourself

In a meeting, do you say what’s on your mind or do you hold back and keep your mouth shut? Some of you might disagree with me, but you should just go with the first idea that pops into your head. If you over-analyze it or ask your inner-editor to critique it, you’re going to end up with a watered-down, “safe” idea. It’s fun to be on stage — have a thought in your brain — say it aloud — hear people laugh and think to yourself, “Where did that come from?! That was great!”

Treat everyone with respect

Del Close, a forefather of improv in Chicago, believed this: “Performers need to have the utmost respect for one another — that if they treated each other like geniuses, poets and artists — they could become that on stage.” Do you treat your co-workers or clients with that kind of respect? Do you listen to what they’re really saying (or in some cases, not saying)? Instead of just shrugging off an idea or dismissing it, give it —and the person — the attention it deserves.

Make your scene partners look good

I didn’t understand this one at first. Originally, I thought it meant that I shouldn’t wash my hair or brush my teeth before class. But what it really means is that you have a lot of power in how the audience reacts to your scene partner. This means you have a lot of control about how others view your co-worker. Imagine if you’re teaming up for a presentation and your co-worker is speaking. If you’re just standing there, slack-jawed with drool coming out of your mouth, how do you think your audience will respond? But if you nod your head and listen attentively, that signals to your audience that whatever your co-worker is saying is worth listening to.

Stop complaining

Nobody comes up to you and tells you how much they love something. Everybody complains—about the weather, traffic and in-laws. But is this something you want to listen to? So, why even bother talking about it? Granted, you’re probably not going to run around your office screaming, “I love coleslaw!” but I’d rather listen to a person talk about what they love, rather than what they hate.

Posted by Jessica Levco

How to Create an Inspiring and Informing Intranet


Every day, people across your hospital are logging into your Intranet. You’ve got to give them something they want to read. But first, you’ve got to make sure your homepage looks decent.

Here are a few tricks to keep in mind:

“Keep it fresh”: We recommend pushing out updates to key feature areas on the homepage at least once or twice a week.

Push out engaging content: Include infographics, videos and polls.

Keep what’s new front and center: Staff will look at your intranet for the latest news, so make sure that’s readily available.

Quick search: Make sure users can get to a search bar directly on the homepage.

“Less is more”: Ensure you don’t crowd the homepage with too much content that users can’t easily navigate to what they need.

Get input: Develop a simple process for employees to add their content.

Now that you’ve got the nuts and bolts down, here are a few tips for creative content ideas:

Quick links: We recommend between five and 10 quick links, which can be denoted with a text link alone or with a relevant icon.

Rotating images/banner: Update your intranet with fresh, professionally generated images at least once a month. You don’t want to bore people with stale content.

Employee recognition and spotlight: In today’s social media age, everyone wants to know what’s going on with their friends. Highlight your key performers by including their photo and a blurb on their contributions to your organization.

Important updates from leadership: Employees appreciate receiving news such as construction, financial updates, new department offerings, new staff or new initiatives directly from the leadership team by a video or written blog.

Use external content: Drop in a relevant widget or RSS feeds from trusted, outside sources, but ensure that you’re selective about what you choose. You don’t want to overcrowd the page.


Posted by Danielle Quales

The pin is mightier than…


So many networks, so little time!

Choosing the right social networks to reach your audience is a big decision. But here are two stats to make a decision about joining Pinterest a little easier:


So, what can your hospital do with a Pinterest account? Here are a few examples from our clients:

Aurora Health Care: It uses eight boards to share healthy living tips, great recipes and info on some of their key service lines, such as heart health and cancer. Each pin kept with the same theme: “dedicated to keeping you happy, healthy and loving life.” Awesome.

Houston Methodist: These 48 boards range from brain or prostate cancer; patient and staff highlights; and healthy snacks. With nearly 5,000 pins, Houston Methodist has been able to build a solid following.

Broward Health: This Florida hospital has more than 30 boards and focuses on creating recipes for all different types of eaters: kids, diabetics, snackers and grill masters. We also liked how it made an effort to appeal to moms by sharing boards on hospital crafts, newborns and parenting tips.

Don’t overlook all those little virtual cork boards for building brand awareness with a wider audience and a loyal following. Your options in Pinterest are only as limited as your creativity. It’s easy to tie some pins into your overall editorial calendar and strategic priorities.

Happy pinning!

Posted by Nancy Jean

Patient Portal: If You Build It, Patients Will Come


Online patient portals are all the buzz these days — and for good reason. They can provide a variety of benefits and services to your staff and your patients, in a digital format that’s familiar to more and more patient demographics. And what’s even better, patients are interested in using online patient portals:

Benefits of Patient Portals

Need to convince your C-suite into a letting you build a patient portal? Here are some of the benefits to tout:

Communicate more effectively: Both doctors and patients can see all history and information at a single glance, allowing them to quickly spot trends and pinpoint problems.

Reduce phone call volume: Patients can book appointments on the portal, freeing up office staff to attend to patients who are in the office for their appointments.

Request prescription refills: The ability to refill prescriptions online can also reduce in-office patient wait time since prescriptions can be refilled outside of the office visit.

Share records with specialists: Portals provide the physician with the ability to securely and easily share complete or selected medical records with a specialist who needs to collaborate in the patient’s care.

Attracting Users to Your Portal

At the same time, simply establishing a patient portal at your facility isn’t enough to drive real, sustainable engagement of your patients and providers.

Ensure that you’ve developed (and received buy-in) on a plan of spreading the word about your portal to patients, physicians, nurses and staff members. A widespread marketing campaign can help everyone understand the benefits of the portal.

In addition, speak with the representative from your portal software provider for tips on the best ways that various members of your staff can most effectively and appropriately share information about the features and benefits of your portal. You’ll want to make sure you spread the gospel of your online portal to patients of all ages and demographics.

Posted by Danielle Quales

5 things you need to do if you’re working from home


Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve been reading a lot of those “must-have” lists you need for a home office. You know the drill: a reliable Internet connection, a headset, a comfy chair. Blah, blah, blah.

Sure, all that stuff is important, but I’ve found it’s the little things that can make a big difference to making working from home an even more pleasant experience.

Get physical: Working from home gives you so many different workout options. You can take a quick stroll around your neighborhood at lunch, do some crunches when you’ve got writer’s block or take your phone calls standing up. But did you know that a lot of gyms offer discounts if you sign up during non-peak membership hours? Plus, if you sign up for a class in the afternoon, odds are that it won’t be that crowded.

Start a lunch rotation: Network with people in your community or see if you can round up some friends who are working from home. At the very least, see if your friends who do have a 9-5 want to sneak out for a sandwich. Try to set up a lunch date once a week.

Get a cookbook: When you’ve maxed out your credit card on lunch, now is the time to start experimenting with some new recipes. Now that you have all day to cook something, you won’t feel rushed. Just don’t start talking to your pots and pans (that might be a sign that you need to start eating with people again).

Buy yourself a gift card to your favorite coffee shop: It can be tempting to sit inside all day, hunker down and get your work done. But if you know that you’ve already invested $25 on a gift card, you’ll be more likely to go out there and use it.

Membership to Headspace: Sometimes, you just need to say, “ommm.” This meditation app helps you quiet your inner editor and your mind. Insider’s tip: If you go to the website, you’ll get a free 10-day trial membership.

Posted by Jessica Levco

How to Build Trust With Hospital Clients


Whether you’re trying to build trust with customers, clients, or co-workers, compassion is key. That word sounds soft, doesn’t it? Compassion. We’re not supposed to be concerned with compassion when it comes to business, right?

Wrong. Business, like all of life, is all about relationships. And good relationships don’t exist without compassion.

In The Seven Arts of Change, David Shaner says, “For some reason, we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that business, capitalism, and management are subjects for which the laws of compassion and interconnectedness do not apply. For some reason, under the façade of ‘it’s nothing personal; it’s just business,’ we excuse behavior we would normally consider insensitive, careless, cruel, and even abusive.”

Why do we do this? Is it okay to lie to your co-workers, but not to your family? Is it acceptable to undercut your peer, but not your spouse? Is it ever acceptable to do one thing, but say another?

I don’t think so. If we’re interested in building trust, in working and living with people who have our backs – and we have theirs – then we have to be compassionate. We have to work to understand others’ positions, especially when they differ greatly from ours. This is not easy to do; it takes practice and consistent attention. But the results are well-worth it.

Posted by Christy Pretzinger, President & CEO

4 Research Tips for Your Next Medical Story


As a medical communicator, I’ve written a number of articles that required fair amounts of research. Luckily, I love the research aspect of my job and enjoy learning with each piece.

But what if the research doesn’t come easily? What if your job is to turn a verbose research paper or lengthy Powerpoint into something that a non-clinical audience would want to read and can easily understand? Here are a few tips from our clients to keep in mind:

Write interview questions as you research. If there’s something you don’t understand in the research, ask your interviewee to explain it. Sometimes clinicians believe a Powerpoint or research paper will tell the story on its own. If you’re facing resistance to an interview, let your expert know that you’re writing for both a clinical and a general audience. A brief phone interview, or answers to some questions over email, will greatly improve your story. UC Health has posted a detailed, but easily understood story on curing pancreatitis where the writer paraphrased a doctor’s explanation of a surgery.

Pretend you know nothing. Be sure to explain medical terms and procedures clearly and succinctly, so a broad audience will understand. The pericarditis page at Aurora Health Care’s website delves into pericarditis in a way that’s accessible to everyone.

Spell out and explain acronyms. Instead of using a medical acronym like CLABSI, say that hospital patients may suffer from infections if they have a central line that’s used to administer medication, nutrients or blood products.

Start with a story. Readers want to hear about how the research might affect them. For example, the nuts and bolts of research into the causes of infections that afflict newborns can be rather dry. But the lead in this story focuses on the human element in the research, drawing readers in to an article in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Research Horizons.

Posted by Sarah Hawkins

How to speak to your elderly patients


Good writers keep the target audience in mind. But the default persona for a typical healthcare consumer tends to be a 36-year-old mother-of-two. In reality, the person seeking information for healthcare decisions is probably much older.

Older adults — those 65 and over — make up less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but they represent 40 percent of hospital admissions. Plus, baby boomers turn 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day.

Who are all these people, and how can we talk to them effectively?

No such thing as a typical 70-year-old

Seventy-year-olds are all alike in the same way that 30-year-olds are all alike — only in age. Education, interests, ethnicity, priorities and heath status are as diverse among elders as youngsters.

What’s good for the senior is good for the junior

While we steer away from a senior stereotype (don’t be ageist!), it’s good to know that some cognitive abilities and thinking processes do tend to decline as people age.

Older adults may:

  • Process information at a slower pace
  • Have less working memory to hold onto several pieces of information at the same time
  • Experience difficulty in reading between the lines and drawing conclusions

These declines happen at a different pace for each person — might be at 65 for one person, not until 85 for someone else.

Here’s the great news

The techniques you use to make your content useful for older adults make it easier for everyone. Clear, concise, concrete, well organized, easy to scan, conversational tone, familiar words — everything that makes your web page, blog post or brochure easy to use for the average reader works for the older adult.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid toolkit gives you more points to consider when preparing material for older adults.

Now go picture that elderly reader in your mind as you write. And remember, that will be you someday.

Posted by Karla Webb