191587941 | Db1683 | Dreamstime.com
NACFE tried using a comic strip to communicate information in its Run on Less Electric – DEPOT.

Roeth: Communication is about being understood, not just heard

Feb. 28, 2024
Communication is not about demonstrating how smart you are; it is about communicating information in an understandable manner. Be open to using new methods to reach your audience, especially as it grows and changes.

I was once told that “the purpose of communication is to communicate.” In other words, communication is about ensuring the other person understands what you are saying, not demonstrating your smartness or using industry jargon. It’s about delivering information in a way that makes sense to others and in a way that fosters learning.

The good news is that communication can take many forms. At its best, it’s about telling stories. In the early days of NACFE, we were all about the written word. Our Confidence Reports were well-researched documents but perhaps lacked graphics to break up the long blocks of text. Because of that, we probably lost some readers.

Consequently, we improved at adding graphic content, such as photos, charts, and graphs. At some point, we determined that not everyone had the time—or the inclination—to read through our reports, which sometimes numbered over 100 pages. That is when we added video to our storytelling. In just a few minutes, we could distill the essence of the report into an easily digestible format. We hoped, of course, that the video would entice people to go back and delve into the report.

See also: Geotab starts sustainability alliance to support companies with electrification and decarbonization

Most recently, we took a step into the world of comics. I am not a big fan of comic strips or things like Marvel Comics and their cinema extensions, so it took a bit of convincing when Kim Ehrenhaft, NACFE’s design director, determined that the best way to distill the findings from Run on Less Electric–Depot was via a comic strip-inspired infographic.

I gave Kim the OK to distill the Run’s initial findings into a six-panel comic strip. While it took several iterations to get to the final version, I became a believer. The infographic boiled down complex information and findings into a visually pleasing, easy-to-understand tool.

We got a lot of feedback on that infographic and now have yet another communication tool at our disposal. A comic strip will not always be the way to get our message across, but I learned that sometimes it can be the best way.

I guess the point of this week’s ramblings is not to pigeonhole yourself by communicating the same way you always have. Be open to using new methods to reach your audience, especially as it keeps growing and changing. Don’t close yourself to new ideas.

In next week’s blog, I plan to walk you through some of the key findings we illustrated in that comic strip, which I hope will help all fleets and their partners as they consider electrification.


Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry during this informative webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!