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Digital Toolkit for Leaders

Communicating with impact

Communicating with impact


On this page you will find:


Tool boxes - suggested tools to help you in all aspects of your communication, from creating infographics and other data visualisations that may better influence and persuade others, to best use of presentation software.

Top Tips

Top Tips on best practice for day-to-day communication.

You will also find links to more detailed guidance for those who want to find learning material on specific tools.

Tools for presenting

As a leader you will probably have to deliver presentations, whether regularly or just from time to time.

There are two aspects to presentations; they compliment each other, so it's important to concentrate on both:


Support materials (eg a 'presentation', whiteboard, flipchart)


The skills of talking and presenting to an audience

Several applications are available to help generate visual material. They all have strengths and weaknesses. Find out more:

Tools for communicating data and ideas visually

Visual tools can really help you create an impact in your reports and presentations, particularly useful if you are trying to communicate your vision, highlight key trends or communicate data evidence.

In these two blog posts, Tom Smith from IT Services blogs about techniques that enable you to quickly create graphs and other visualisations from data, and how to create more emotive or softer images that communicate an idea effectively with less reliance on the numbers. He covers infographics, mindmapping, diagrams, timelines, tagclouds and more.

Some of the tools Tom suggests are not supported by the University but they do give you a good idea of the range of tools out there to explore that can help you deliver more impressive presentations and reports through the use of images.

Tools for text

Word processors

Marjory typing at an old typewriter

The Word Processor is one of the most-used applications, but many people only use a fraction of available functionality. Even more importantly, many users employ an 'extended typewriter' approach: focusing solely on visual appearance instead of configuring document structure.

In both Word and Google Docs you should structure text documents using defined 'Styles' (for example, heading styles, paragraph styles). This is essential in order to comply with the (legal) requirements for accessible documents.

Screen or print?

As they are significantly different media, layouts which may be appropriate in print will not necessarily be suitable on screen. Complex layouts can be confusing or difficult to navigate when viewed on tablets or phones. Where documents are likely to be read on screen, keep to simple, structured layouts.

Tools for creating posters

Posters can communicate ideas and information very effectively, and are particularly useful for conferences. It's important not to overload posters with text, so some careful thinking and visual planning is needed.

You can make great posters with PowerPoint, but you need to configure it correctly.

You don't know what you don't know

If we don’t know what we don’t know, how can we ever get to know it?
Teaching and Learning Advisor Mike Dunn tries to find the answer.

Best practice in day-to-day communication

Pile of mail

I'll send you an email...

Email is based on a physical 'model' (mail) so includes many of the same disadvantages. There's not much difference between a pile of unread post on your doormat, and an inbox full of unread messages.

We need to be clear that email is not good for...


...getting quick answers, good feedback or holding a conversation


...letting people know what you've seen/done or what they need to see/do

Editing text

...sharing text-based content for editing/comment


...using as a filing system for storing important documents

Sending an email demands time from the people reading it. Do the sums on how much work time you are demanding when you compose a lengthy email, and the results are scary!

Take a look at the Email Charter - nothing official, just some good ideas from the source as TED talks.


The telephone is much better for holding a conversation. Or you can often just go to another room and talk to someone face-to-face. Other possibilities:


For meetings, find the time in the attendees' calendars (maybe use Doodle) and include links to meeting resources


Put important team information in a common location, perhaps on a Google Site or the Wiki - much better than searching through file managers or Google Drive


Share ideas and planning using collaborative tools like the ones on the Team Work page


If you're working collaboratively, Google documents include comments and suggestions features


...and if you must email, keep it short and clear, with a meaningful subject line.


Coming soon...

Digital storytelling and narrative tools

There is a move from traditional paper-based media towards digital media. An increasing number of different narrative styles and mediums are being developed in the digital world with tools to help you author them. People who tell their stories using digital media tend to include images, video, audio and other interactive media that can be more engaging and more inclusive than paper and print.

Coming soon... Tom Smith will explore some storytelling and narrative techniques and tools.