Sometimes I wonder where people draw the line with persuasive communication and manipulation. When you talk with your children, do you sometimes feel that you are manipulating them not to eat too many candies with the consequences of getting cavities (“You will have a painful time!” Put fear in their mind) or it is just persuasively guiding them to make a right decision.
Policy analysts are responsible to research, find facts and analyze for helping decision makers to make better policies and programs, and inform them the findings objectively and fairly.
What kind of tool should analysts use to presenting their findings? A Briefing Note is usually a preferred tool as it should be concise and clear and it is critical for busy professionals to understand the whole picture without requiring too much time and effort.
What about using visualization techniques as “A picture is worth a thousand words”. If you showed them photos of homeless youth, doesn’t it help the Minister to feel and understand better what is going on the street? I believe visualization tools such as an infographic is an effective tool to address the difficult or complex matter to non- experts to understand it better and easier. Although I would argue that there is a risk that the message from visualization tool can be taken differently depends on the person. And you may consciously or unconsciously pick the visual most impactful for your supporting option even though you know you shouldn’t be biased. Even the clear numbers of data, such as the graphs of immigration population increase can be taken positively or negatively, it all depends on the person’s experience or the situation the particular area/country is facing. I am not optimistic that I can put all the information I need to deliver correctly without using much words and explanation.
Policy analysts have a responsibility to deliver voices and situation public face to the decision makers. For making sure not to make confusion or manipulation, I think the visualization techniques should be used as a support tool, but to make sure to have a tool with proper and correct wording to inform decision makers the unbiased facts.