Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Becoming A Better Communicator

A while back, I was thinking on a practice that some churches have, and I saw something that hams could adapt for our own purposes.   Don't worry, I'm not going to get religious on you here.

Some churches, from time to time, will have testimony meetings.  In these meetings, rank and file members of the congregation will speak about recent experiences that had spiritual significance, or they will relate their conversion experiences.

While reflecting on this, I realized that I have a ham radio testimony, that is, a story about how I became a ham radio operator.  Every ham has a ham radio testimony.

Why should we concern ourselves with this?

Consider this question: What makes ham radio, ham radio?  What makes ham radio different?  Is it the radios?  The science, the technology?  No, because other people have radios and all radios work on the same basic principles.  So, what does make the difference?

We do.  Hams make ham radio what it is.  We make ham radio what it is by what we do with our radios.

This has implications, not just for recruiting, but for public relations in general.

Think about your own experience.  Most likely, someone or a group of people influenced you in some way to become a ham.  Maybe a friend, relative, teacher, co-worker was a ham and they impressed you with their station, QSL cards, awards, etc.  One ham in Tulsa was part of an organization that puts on a big bicycling event, and he decided to become a ham when he had seen the job that hams did supporting that event its first year.

As scary as this thought might sound, a living, breathing ham is a better advertisement for ham radio than any brochure.  I'm not putting down brochures, for they can present information about ham radio is an attractive manner.  But, no brochure can tell someone how much fun it is to talk to someone in another country with out a huge long distance charge on their phone bill, or the satisfaction felt from calling for help when a runner or bike rider goes down.

Several times I have heard a local ham say that everyone needs to be a ham.  I've never agreed with that because I know some people that don't belong on ham radio, and I can think of at least one ham that I wish wasn't a ham.  So, ham radio is not for everybody, but I will say that everybody should be for ham radio.  They need to know what ham radio is and respect it for what we do with our radios.

A ham's testimony can be a valuable tool for letting the public know about ham radio.

But I have another reason for talking about ham radio testimonies.

I have been a ham since March of 1997.  Since then, I have tried to be as active in the clubs as I can be, so I have been to plenty of club meetings.  One thing that you can count on to happen at a club meeting from time to time, is that the newsletter editor will BEG for articles.

Several times, when that has happened, I'll hear someone off to the side say, "I can't write!"

What wrong with that picture?

Ham radio is a form of communications.  Essentially, it is talking on radio.

Writing is also a form of communications.  It is talking on paper, or nowdays, through a word processor.

If you are a ham, that means you can write!

A common misperception is that writing requires talent.  Of course, some writers are talented at creating clever phrases and vivid descriptions, but writing is a skill that anyone can develop.  Sure, developing that skill takes time and effort.

Another common excuse is, "I don't have anything to write about."  Well, I just gave you something to write about - your ham radio testimony!

Even if you don't submit your testimony as an article for your club's newsletter, I challenge you to write it out anyway.  Do it for yourself.  See as an exercise that will help you become a better communicator.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and challenge you to do something I haven't done myself.  Not only that, I will offer you some help if you have no idea how to get started on writing.

I have written my ham radio testimony and uploaded it to an online file storage and sharing website.  Here is the download link, if you wish to see it:    


I have also created a simple writing plan I call the 3-6-3 Writing Plan.  It's available here:


Beyond the 3-6-3 Writing Plan, I will offer additional help.  Once you have written your testimony, and if you want someone to take a look at it to see if it needs improvement, you can send it to me via email in a text file, or in a Word, Open Office, or PDF file.  I won't make any changes, but I will tell you what changes need to be made.  My email is:


The last thing I want to say about ham radio testimonies is this:  Don't just tell the story of how you became a ham.  Include a summary of what you have done as a ham radio operator, and tell about the parts of ham radio that appeal to you the most.

Finally, I will relate a story that I hope motivates you to follow up on this.

Years ago, a famous novelist was asked to give a lecture about creative writing at a college campus.  When he came out on stage, his clothes were a bit disheveled, his hair uncombed and his eyes a bit bleary as if he were hung over.  After he reaches the podium, he looks over the audience for a moment and then says, "I assume that everyone here wishes to be a writer."

Everyone nods in agreement to that statement.

Then he said, "What are you doing here, instead of sitting at your desks writing something?" before he turns and leaves the stage.