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Developing localised communication skills to generate world-ready, global public health communicators: A success story from QUT

  • Carroll, Julie-Anne
  • Cornford, Michelle
  • Bosco, John
Publication Date
Jul 30, 2019
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive


Communication and advocacy are two of the core competencies for any Public Health practitioner. Arguably, competent and professional communication infiltrates most of the other core competencies in Public Health practice - either directly or indirectly - including leadership in promoting diversity and inclusiveness, and the creation and establishment of effective partnerships for productive collaboration. The UN and the WHO both list advocacy and leadership as two of their most important human resource characteristics when undertaking world globally in trying to achieve the Sustainable Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Further, sophisticated communication skills, in both the written and spoken media, are required to perform successfully on the world stage when making the case to a broad range of leaders and stakeholders for policy, social, and economic change. A successful Public Health Practitioner should be well versed in rhetorical strategies and powerful communication techniques to ensure that their proposals are heard within complex multi and bi-lateral government and NGO interactions and negotiations. However, many undergraduate students in Public Health struggle to present their research ideas confidently, and in a convincing manner – even when they are in their final years of study. Students generally over-rely on their notes, or powerpoint slides, and lack the skills to ‘think on their feet’. While their knowledge of the content is often good; their ability to verbally and professionally communicate this is far less so. In this presentation, I will showcase the methods used to systematically teach public speaking to the students in our PUB209 Health, Culture, and Society unit. Further, I will demonstrate the outcome of this training in a short film that demonstrates the high quality of presenting ability achieved by most students during the semester. I reflect on the pedagogical processes and tactics and strategies taken from disciplines such as Business and Creative Industries to develop these skills with students, and the systematic and step-by-step exercises undertaken to build student confidence in communicating global Public Health phenomena to both international and local, community audiences.

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