Speaker Spotlight - Dr. Robert Chandler

Speaker Deep Dive – Dr. Robert Chandler

Reimagining the Warning Message – Enhancing Personal & Public Safety for Disasters and Emergencies | Wednesday, Sept. 26 | 10:45-11:45 a.m.

Dr. Robert C. Chandler, Lipscomb University

“Whether warnings work or fail is one aspect of disaster and emergency response that can clearly be classified as a potentially ‘life or death’ matter.”

Dr. Robert C. Chandler will address this topic at the final DRJ Fall 2018 general session where he will ask attendees to reimagine the emergency warning message with a view toward improving communication effectiveness of warnings for disasters and emergencies.

Chandler will present valuable insights gleaned from research, scholarship, and professional best practices during this one-hour session. He’ll provide key analytical constructs that are necessary to better understand warnings and people’s responses to them. “This is a critically relevant aspect for all of us who either create, transmit, and/or receive warnings.”

According to Chandler, warning messages are a main aspect of successful response and management during emergencies and disasters. “To a significant degree, the success and failure of human factors performance of people hinges pivotally on the effectiveness of communicated warnings, alerts and advisory signs, and labels along with their understanding and behavioral responses.” He adds that this is particular true in extreme situations (i.e., natural disasters, workplace violence, terrorism, industrial disasters). Unfortunately, these critical warnings often fail to change people’s behaviors. “Either the warning messages go unnoticed, or the warning is perceived but not attended to, processed, elaborated, or acted upon for various reasons and (competing or lack of) motivations.”

Chandler’s in-depth session will provide attendees with an overview of how to reconsider warning messages with the purpose of improving their efficacy. This relevant information is especially important for those who create, transmit, or receive warnings during adverse and dangerous situations. In addition, the session will cover key factors, which can increase the likelihood of attracting a target audience’s attention, perception, selection, elaboration, and appropriate behavioral responses if these factors are better understood.

He says little attention has been given in professional training in the specifics of improving warnings. Even professional educational efforts have only focused on modal or sensory aspects of warnings such as format, written or spoken, volume, color, shape, location, images vs. text, and more. In the past, there has been an overemphasis on the technical capabilities of ringing phones, transmitting SMS messages, and sending electronic messages in a variety of modalities. This session is different from that because the information presented will instead focus on the aspects of communicating warnings beyond how many text messages can be transmitted within a specific timeframe. Chandler’s session is also unique because it will apply social science research findings, scholarly theories and models, and best practices gained from the professional field to offer insight and normative suggestions for improving how warnings are created, transmitted, and received.

“What is most important, in order to improve the work of communicated warnings, is to shift our critical attention beyond just the technological tools we use but to also include the key characteristics of warning people, which includes the message, the medium by which it is delivered, and complex human factors that affect attention, selection, comprehension, understanding, and behavioral responses where are at the crux of whether warning messages work or don’t,” he says.

Chandler will also give DRJ Fall 2018 presentations on Sept. 23 with a pre-conference short course from 8 a.m. to noon with “Reimagining Personal Resilience: Improving Situational Awareness Skills” and mid-conference workshop on Sept. 25 from 3-5:30 p.m. with “Reimagining Multilingual Considerations: A Development Workshop for Enhancing Communication Resiliency with Changing Demographics.”

Chandler has a Ph.D. and currently holds an academic appointment as a professor at Lipscomb University. He is also founder of the Forum for Crisis and Consequence Management. Chandler provides professional consulting, assessment, training, and other development services in a range of key areas and is always open to serving the professional community within the areas of his subject matter expertise, including aspects related to this topic.
Dr. Robert Chandler
Dr. Robert ChandlerLipscomb University
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