It’s late in the work day. I have been facilitating this meeting for several hours. The participants, bridge designers and engineers, are tired. They are starting to get irritable but we are on a deadline and need to keep working. I’ve tried every motivational trick I can think of to keep the creativity flowing.
Out of the blue, I remember the first course I took as part of American University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. During Principles of Strategic Communication, we studied the SUCCESs model, developed by Chip and Dan Heath. I look at the meeting participants and announce, “You know what? We need something simple here, something unexpected, compelling, concrete, and emotional. We need to tell a better story.” And just like that, the atmosphere in the room changes. My clients, a little taken aback by my announcement, are creative again. Now they are looking for ways to implement the SUCCESs model in the content we’ve developed. If you prefer to look at this through numbers, consider this: the single meeting facilitation engagement translated into a follow-on consulting gig worth 30 billable hours.
In another example, I was working with a client on a Department of Defense proposal when it occurred to me that the executive summary would benefit from an infographic – a communication tool I learned to develop in Writing for Strategic Communication. The client agreed. In the end, the knowledge I gained in a single course unit translated into an additional 20 billable hours. I’m not even halfway through the program and I’m starting to see a direct return on my investment!
Internally, my company now applies the concepts and assignments from my coursework to our day-to-day operations. We have a new strategic communication plan. We’ve implemented new ideas in refining our social media profile. Our clients look at us a little differently than they did before: they’re demonstrating a kind of deference, or heightened respect, that wasn’t there before.
These are just a couple of examples of how I’ve been able to integrate knowledge from the Master’s in Strategic Communication program into my professional life. It seems that every day I have a new opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in the program to my day job. At times without even realizing it. I'll read through something I've written for work and see the impact of my new knowledge throughout the piece.
I admit, sometimes the workload of being a student and a professional can feel overwhelming. I won’t deny that I have looked at reading materials and wondered what the professor was thinking in assigning them. But ever since I joined the program, something magical has been happening, and pretty consistently: I will be in a meeting in which I clarify a requirement or offer a fresh idea in a way that makes my client think I’m brilliant. I realize that the way I communicate, write, and process information have changed. I’m operating at a higher level, with more confidence. And at that moment in time, I understand what the professor was thinking in assigning that material. I finally get that all the reading and writing and listening and commenting and collaborating have contributed to this moment of awesomeness.
To learn more about American University's online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication, request more information or call toll free at 855-725-7614.