The AMWA 2018 Medical Writing and Communication Conference began with the presentation of my award as a Fellow of AMWA. It was especially meaningful to receive this award from my colleague and good friend, Theresa Singleton.
At the conference, I met many friends and colleagues and made many new connections. I enjoyed Stacy Robison’s talk entitled, ”The Heart and Science of Medical Writing.” Stacy discussed the importance of writing accurate and up-to-date materials that people can relate to and trust. Stacy recommended using common abbreviations, positive and encouraging words, normalizing health issues, and acknowledging people’s emotions in our writing. These ingredients help build trust with readers and enable them to be more open to hear the research or clinical results explained.
A similar theme was echoed in the session, “The Power of Story in Science Communication.” As with any good story, our writing and presentations are most interesting when they have compelling characters, a plot that shows a journey through conflict, and a story that keeps our attention. This is often difficult in medical writing because the content and style of our writing differs from the traditional novel or non-fiction book. However, this session challenged us as medical writers to rearrange our writing and presentations to develop the curiosity of our readers and maintain their interest. One way to think about this is to activate your reader’s senses by adding color, shape, sound, and taste into your story. This can be done by starting your writing with a real-life story or telling a story about each fact presented. Listening to TED talks can help you develop your sense of story. I have been challenging myself to develop one experience from my day into a story I can tell someone. One day I hope to live up to Alfred Hitchcock’s quote below:
Tip: “A good story is real life…with all of the boring parts taken out.” (Alfred Hitchcock)