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How I Enhanced My Organizational Storytelling Skills Through My Masters Program

As an experienced culinarian, I find that good cooking is both an art and a science. Many steps occur between choosing a recipe and placing a delicious dish on the table, involving both precision and creativity. A career in communication is much the same – partly an art and partly a science. With a skillfully crafted message, an effective communicator can evoke a range of emotions while developing a gallery of mental images that allows the audience to not only hear the story but experience it as well.

I recently attended a professional session for communicators which described how to use storytelling to effectively share organizational news. The most important takeaway from the session that continues to resonate with me is this:

Facts don't create movement - great stories do.

As a professional communicator, my primary role is to facilitate sharing facts about my organization. Current research. Faculty achievements. Student success. Departmental recognitions. Telling these facts, however, has an even greater impact when they are married to the stories behind them. The blending of precision and creativity.

Purdue’s Master of Science in Communication prepared me to find that perfect balance between science and art. The program is carefully designed to provide the expertise and confidence I need to share stories daily that create audience movement and engagement.

The program started by building a strong foundation through courses in Seminar in Strategic CommunicationSeminar in Global Strategic Communication, and Seminar in Crisis Communication. Once that important groundwork was mastered and a strong theoretical underpinning was in place, the curriculum and instruction provided by faculty expanded not only my skills – the precision part of telling facts – but also my analytical thinking – the creative portion of sharing moving stories. This deeper critical thinking allows me to take my communication beyond reporting facts to encouraging the audience to care about a story, and acting once they do care.

Remember: facts don’t create movement in your audience – great stories do. My master’s degree from Purdue has given me the skills and confidence I need to incorporate both science and art in my professional communication career.

Boiler Up!

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Jennifer Merzdorf is an alumni of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

About the Author
Jennifer Merzdorf began as Marketing and Communication Specialist in the Division of Environmental & Ecological Engineering and the School of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University in July 2016. In this role, Jennifer is
responsible for developing, implementing, and managing a communication plan for both programs, as well as acting as the central point of organized communication for internal and external audiences. Her background is in
communication in a variety of settings, from higher education to commercial print production.

Previously in Enrollment Management Communications in the Office of Admissions at Purdue, Jennifer was Production Manager, where she managed and developed production and distribution schedules for undergraduate recruitment communication, including electronic and print formats.

Jennifer completed her M.S. in Communication from the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue in December 2015. She is currently enrolled in the Project Management Essentials course offered through Engineering Professional Education at Purdue.

In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her family, walking the trails around West Lafayette, taking photos, and reading.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.