The Getting the Message Across information and workshop session was held on 16 May 2011. Hosted by History SA’s Community History Officers the session was enthusiastically attended by 22 people from history groups, museums, and the fields of health and social services. There was plenty of lively discussion as participants took the opportunity to engage with the topic and share their thoughts and experiences.
The workshop asked participants to consider ‘what is good history’. Responses included lots of great points about the importance of accuracy in writing and research and presenting a diverse, inclusive and fair view of history. There was also considerable discussion about examples of interpretive signs and display panels and in what ways they ‘worked’, or not, in terms of conveying interpretation through content and design.
Workshop participants also looked at the common dilemma of how to decide what to include in a project and what to leave out. Discussion ranged through the difference between topics and key messages and how to define and use key messages for narrowing down the specific content of a project. The workshop also covered tips for writing for interpretation – everything from writing succinctly, font sizes and styles to using images and other graphics effectively to enhance the historical message/s.
Overall some key points from the workshop were:
- Historical projects need to reflect good history
- Key messages are essential in guiding the content of projects
- The way interpretation is presented and the stories and ‘voices’ that are included are pivotal in visitors’ engagement with interpretation and therefore the likelihood that the ‘message will get across’
- Style of writing is important for making connections with visitors and aiding their understanding of the interpretation.