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Lesson 3

Interpreting the Message and Passing it On 

Main Idea:  You should not simply receive a technical bulletin and pass it on. Instead, you should understand and interpret it in non-technical language and be prepared to tell others the message in your own words. 

Often, officials and others will simply copy and pass on the agency's technical bulletin without adding to it. They do this because they feel that one has to be an authorized official or expert to do anything other than pass on the bulletin. 


But here is the problem: technical messages need interpretation in order for others to pay attention to and understand them. Everyone has the responsibility to translate the information into terms that others will understand more easily. 


If you are passing on a message, you should translate the message into one that will be more easily understood. Doing so does not mean that you are changing the information, pretending to be an expert, or assuming a role that you do not officially have. First of all, you can always attach the original technical bulletin. Secondly, your message can acknowledge that you are interpreting the technical message into something that the general public can understand. 

Here are some suggestions on how you can interpret technical messages. 


  • Rewrite the information using everyday, non-technical terms. 

  • Comment on what the bulletin means directly for the people you are communicating with. 

  • If a map is provided with the bulletin, interpret the map and tell others what it is saying about their particular location. 

  • Add more information about possible effects of the event. 

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