Dear Students for Equal Treatment in Sports, I am writing to you to help you understand how you can efficiently spread your organization's message through the concept of Selectivity. Although there are many ways this term can be used, I am going to explain four simple ways in which it can help you further the usefulness of your organization's message. Through selectivity, people can “select” or choose the information they pay attention to, comprehend, are exposed to, and remember. I will go further in to each of these concepts below. To begin, selective exposure is a concept used to describe what people let themselves be subjected to or surrounded by. The trouble with starting a new club is getting your message to the largest number of people. One way that this can be achieved is through proximity. This is where having an environment such as a college campus is going to be helpful. You can take advantage of the college community by simply crafting a short video to be played before football games or large study areas like the PCL. Since everyone is already there, there is a greater possibility that they will see a flyer or hear a short video on a TV screen. Another way to get your message spread to more people is by appealing to their fundamentals or through a concept called supportive beliefs. Typically, people will not expose themselves to arguments that go against their core beliefs. Using this to your advantage, try crafting your message in a way that does not offend any one group specifically. Consequently, you are promoting your organization to all sectors of society rather than a select few. Similarly, involvement is a term used to describe how people are exposed to stimuli in relation to what they are a member of. For SETS, you can craft individual statements to target specific areas of life at UT. For example, if you are wanting to raise awareness in the football department, it is important that you are able to reach that spectrum of society. Having a player that is involved in the football department speak up for your organization will go a long way and expose even more football players. Building on this, selective attention is a concept that explains how to grasp the concentration of the very busy society we live in. With so many activities happening around us, it is important to limit the hectic environment we live in. This concept is called less competing stimuli. To obtain listeners’ attention, you need to ensure there is no distracting stimuli that would tear their focus away. For example, if you are giving a short presentation on the purpose of SETS, you should host it in a room where there are little distractions such as loud noises or people constantly walking by. If a video is going to be played, ask that cell phones be turned to silent out of courtesy. Doing this will keep your audience focused and attentive. Another way to keep audiences’ attention is through changing the momentum and speed of information flowing. People tend to notice things that change pace frequently.
The same can be applied to when you present information about SETS to people. In order for people to be attentive to your information, the content has to be interesting in the beginning and continuously change pace. Try first opening with a short video clip from the President of UT and then transition to a student leading the discussion. The change in momentum from a video to a in-person lecture will force the audience to pay more attention than if it were just a video the whole time. A third way that selective attention can be applied to this situation is through utility. People tend to pay attention to what is around them only if it is useful to know. For example, students at UT will pay more attention to the weather in Austin, like the recent hail warnings, because it is important to their everyday outings and safety. For your purpose, if you have many women athletes in attendance at your presentation, you can try to incorporate how the information you are giving will benefit them to know. Let them know that your organization will be advocating for their equality. They need to know that the existence of SETS is going to impact their lives in some way in order for them to pay attention to the information. Another efficient way to grasp the attention of others is to make them feel good about themselves through positive affect. As humans, we tend to pay attention to stimuli that make us feel good. For example, if you were to walk into a room and there was a lecture being told about how great the University of Texas is, you would feel a sense of pride and be more inclined to pay attention. The same goes with your message. In order to earn this attention, you have to craft a message that makes people feel good. For instance, you can promote the women athletes of Texas in a way that makes the whole student body feel prideful with a nostalgic video clip or montage. Third, selective perception is a term used to describe how people can hand pick what they chose to believe. One way in which this is conceptualized is through understanding biases. As a result of our self interests shaping what we see and hear, it is important to produce a message that can be loved and supported universally. SETS should represent an organization that includes every one’s self interest and biases equally so that the message is understood across every platform. Another way to ensure a listener is perceiving your message clearly is through reducing ambiguity. To do this, you must not leave any room for interpretation. For your message, a great way to start is by keeping announcements short and to the point so there is no space for another group to twist the meaning. A statement such as “we strive for change and advocate for all women in sports” is clear and to the point. Similarly, using redundancy can strengthen a messages’ delivery. The more you repeat the meaning behind your organization, the harder it will be for people to misunderstand what you are trying to do. If you uncover a perfect phrase or word to capture the presence of SETS, it is great to use this over and over until it has become known by everyone on campus. By repeating your motto constantly, people will only associate your organization with that exact meaning, leaving little to no room for wrong perceptions. A final way perception can be altered is through the listener’s needs. An audience wants to feel that they are being represented and included. To do this, you may need to branch out to other organizations to ask what it is these students enjoy. To make the student body feel included, SETS could send out a poll asking students what they feel UT could be doing better about coverage of women’s sports. Having control of the poll and how it is presented gives your organization all the power. While the respondents feel they are contributing to their school’s politics, you are pushing their perception to match your own. Finally, selective retention is a concept that has helped influencers understand how to best present their information to a group of people so that they remember the important content. One way this can be done is through redundancy and repetition. To help listeners of your presentation remember the information they are being given, try repeating the important stimuli. If you are, for example, trying to express that women are mistreated in the media coverage of female sports, you can emphasis this with multiple examples and continue to reference them. The more you reference these examples throughout your presentation, the better the audience will remember the facts even after the presentation is over. Another way people tend to retain content effectively is through seeing information or the visual superiority effect. Having pictures and graphs of the statistics people are given largely affects how well your audience will retain the information. For your purposes, you could show video examples of how women are talked about in the media. Showing clips and real images of women being objectified will resonate well with audience’s emotions rather than just listing statistics. One final way to increase the effectiveness of your information is by following the concept of primacy which focuses on when to present your information. You want to insure that the most impactful data you have goes at the start and end of a presentation. If I were to list all of the Presidents of the United States in order and ask you to repeat them all back to me, you would be able to remember the first five or so, maybe a few outliers in the middle, and then the last five. You can use this phenomenon to your advantage by placing what you want your listeners to take away from this presentation at the beginning and end. For example, you can push your organization’s message aggressively at the start and end of each semester to remind people who have forgotten about it through the craziness of the year. Printing more posters and flyers to plaster around campus when students are looking for new clubs to take initiative in will maximize your success in spreading the agenda of your organization.If you follow these simple suggestions and instructions that I have laid out before you describing how people can choose what they believe, pay attention to, remember, and expose themselves to, listeners will notice all the hard work SETS is doing for the betterment of women athletes! I hope this letter finds you in good will and look forward to the future of SETS!
Sincerely, Morgan Cutaia