People often ask why JVT is an expert communicator. Jonathan Van Tam is currently the deputy chief medical officer in the United Kingdom. He has become a genuine star and a respected professional during the Pandemic in the United Kingdom. But why has he been so successful, and in particular an excellent communicator?
Jonathan Van-Tam, of JVT as he is affectionately known became visible and respected during the pandemic. From 2020 onwards he was one of the experts delivering the daily dispatches from 10 Downing Street; addressing the nation about restrictions and the lockdown. JVT is a particular expert on influenza and whilst ‘flu isn’t COVID19, it is a respiratory virus. Here is more information on JVT.
But what makes JVT a great communicator? Here are points that JVT does so well.
- He was consistent with his messaging throughout all of his media appearances. Unlike the politicians, he always answered the questions. This was a very difficult time for the nation, yet this consistency was reassuring.
- There was always an opportunity for journalists to ask questions; to be our voice to the experts. Again, unlike the politicians, he always answered the question directly rather than dodging the question or not giving an answer.
- As a result of this, people generally trusted him. He influenced people’s thoughts and as a result there was trust in the lockdowns and vaccination programmes the United Kingdom brought in during the pandemic. This was a very frightening time for many people; yet he was able to reassure the general public that the measures were the right action, without talking down at us. The politicians had a ‘tone of voice’ that was patronising at times: it is a characteristic of many Tories unfortunately. But this is not something JVT would do.
- He explained difficult medical and scientific concepts, that the majority of the UK population would not be able to understand, in a clear, concise way, wrapping these concepts around with a short story, case study or one of his memorable analogies. This is a classic example of how to make difficult or complicated information simple and easy for everyone to access.
- He was memorable. The use of analogies: some of them very amusing, made his messages truly memorable. He was sharing important information. Ensuring everyone remembered these messages was genius.
- The use of his memorable analogies brought a smile to the faces of many people. These were very difficult times and having a moment to smile or have a chuckle was much needed.
- And finally, JVT came across as a genuinely kind, generous, approachable human being. Someone that if you met him on the street, you would want to say hello! Unlike many people in these positions (eg some of the politicians), he was ‘every man’, and this was a real strength.
Here are some of JVT’s classic analogies:
- “What I’m saying is that we need more vaccines, but we also need people to realise that these are not an instant ticket out of anywhere at the moment,”
- “I genuinely have said to my 78-year-old mum, who’s probably listening now – ‘Mum, you must have this vaccine, or any of the vaccines that the MHRA [the UK’s medicines regulator] approves as soon as they are available. This is really important, because you are so at risk’,”
- “So this is like… getting to the end of the play-off final, it’s gone to penalties, the first player goes up and scores a goal,”
- “You haven’t won the cup yet, but what it does is, it tells you that the goalkeeper can be beaten.”
- “What we need now is for people to get on that train and travel safely to their destinations.”