Material Development Tips: Creating your Messages

Creating materials that are clear and appropriate for your intended audience are important. This section gives tips for deciding what to say to your audience and how to say it. You can use these tips to develop the content of your message. Additionally, it can be used to further complement Step 4B of our Roadmap Steps Worksheet for creating a message.

  1. Give the most important information first.
    Explain to the audience why it is important to them and tell them what actions to take.
  2. Limit the number of messages.
    Give your audience no more than 3-4 main ideas per document or section of your document. Focus on what your audience needs to know and do. Stick to one message at a time and avoid lengthy lists.
  3. Tell audiences what they need to do.
    Clearly state the actions you want your audience to take. Tell the audience what they should do rather than what they should not do.
  4. Tell your audience what they will gain from understanding and using the material.
    Tell them how the materials will benefit them.
  5. Choose your words carefully.
    Use words with 1-2 syllables when you can. Keep sentences between 8-10 words and limit paragraphs to 3-5 sentences. Respect and value your audience. Do not talk down or preach your message. Limit the use of jargon, technical, or scientific language. Choose words with single definitions or connotations and be consistent with word use.

Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Simply Put: A guide for creating easy-to-understand materials 2009.