Have you found your voice?

Lori Gorski | August 05, 2015

“Patient Advocacy? I can totally see that,” said a colleague when I said that I would be taking on a new role in Patient Advocacy. It’s always scary to try something new, and I am so grateful for these simple words of support. After seven years with Genzyme’s communications group, I am excited to work more directly with the communities we serve in my new role in Patient Advocacy.

Each one of us in our roles, professional and personal, communicates. To be a good communicator, you must be authentic. You must use your own voice. More than anything, I believe tone matters – in verbal conversations and in writing. I do my best to be consistent in tone no matter the audience - colleagues, media, friends and family – or the communications outlet – face-to-face, emails, blogs, Web content, etc.  While the content and subject matter may differ, audience to audience, I believe establishing and maintaining a constant tone communicates who you are. It personalizes you, your organization and what you stand for. Your tone, your voice, is your brand.

One of the most memorable speakers I have encountered at Genzyme was the father of a boy living with a lysosomal storage disorder. This man was not a professionally trained speaker, and I suspect he wasn’t entirely comfortable in front of a large audience.  He spoke of his own experiences suspecting something may not be right with his son, about receiving the diagnosis and about how his family has moved forward as only the father of this child could do. And I will never forget it.

Have you ever read a document, maybe a speech, and just thought, “Wow. That really sounds like him/her!” You hear that person’s voice come through in the words. A communication philosopher named Marshall McLuhan famously concluded that “the Medium is the Message.” Put yourself into your writing; let people hear you when they read your words. Use “We” and “I” when talking about your organization. Read your words aloud after you write them. Did you write as you speak?  Be passionate in your communications, written and verbal. Appeal to a common desire to do the right thing. Several years ago, I spoke with an important business reporter about a sensitive, high profile company issue. I was really nervous! After providing him with the facts he needed, I asked him, in a tone that was respectful and sincere, to be thoughtful about how he would write his headline – reminding him that families in our community would read the story, and that a sensational headline could worry people unnecessarily. It was a changing point in my relationship with this reporter. Ultimately, his headline was fair, and I like to believe it’s because of how we changed our communication from talking points and formality, to a conversation between two people trying to do the right thing.  

Obviously, I am passionate about communications and I look forward to bringing more of my passion and my background to Genzyme Rare community. For every one of us, finding our “voice” is just the beginning. Is there a particular communications topic you would like to see addressed here? Maybe it has to do with using storytelling to make your presentations more impactful, or how to better utilize social media. There are lots of resources online, such as http://causeclarity.org/  which provides short, 3-minute tutorials on a variety of non-profit communication tactics.

If there is a communications topic you would like to see addressed in this space, please let us know! 

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