Child brushing teeth on beyondattitude.com
Never too Young to Start!
Every Behaviour Change campaign requires materials to support the program. Whether they are web-based, posters, prompts or informative leaflets, when you are developing materials to support behaviour change programs, it is important to resonate with your readers. After all, you only have a limited time with them. Make the most of it.

Here are 5 tips for designing effective Behaviour Change materials.

  1. Write for your audience, not for yourself. You may know many reasons why people should cut their water use, and you may be able to write long diatribes on the perils of running the water while brushing teeth. Unfortunately, no one wants to read it. Instead, tell them what they need to know to change their behaviour, like this: We are facing water shortages. Turn the water off while brushing and you will save both water and money.
  2. Keep it short. Try to use as few words as possible. When you are finished a draft you are happy with, go through and delete all the extra words and try to shorten phrases. You will be surprised at how many words can be deleted without changing the meaning of the text.
  3. Be consistent. Consistency in language, colours, graphics and slogans makes materials stronger than the sum of their parts. If people see an anti-idling sign at their local school and can link it to a brochure or website that had the same language and feel, it will have more impact.
  4. Be vivid. Describe things in visual pictures. People will not be able to picture 1,000,000 recycled bottles, but if you say enough bottles were recycled to fill the Calgary Saddledome, then they will be impressed. And make it local, refer to your community’s arena! 🙂
  5. Avoid jargon. Sure, you know what “zero waste,” “polyethylene terephthalate” and “eutrophication” mean because you are in the business, but don’t assume your audience does. Speak in terms that they understand. “Waste reduction, “plastic pop bottles” and “lakes turn into swamps” are alternatives to which regular folk can relate.

Follow these rules and you will be writing effective behaviour change materials that can make a difference! If you have your own tip to share, please tell us about it in the comment section below.

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