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Communication advice from Tracey Spicer

14 Sep 2018

Tracey Spicer presenting at Fusion Conference 2018

Renowned journalist, author and advocate, Tracey Spicer, shared communication advice lessons from her 30-year career at #Fusion18, the IABC Asia-Pacific conference.

Tracey had the audience of 150 communications professionals enthralled with stories about her beginnings as a “bogan from Brisbane” and her career at Channel Ten, through to her advocacy work, and the recent release of her book The Good Girl Stripped Bare.

Here is a summary of Tracey’s talk at #Fusion18.

Power of personal narrative

Tracey’s TED Talk is an excellent demonstration of the power of personal narrative in communicating with others. Watch The lady stripped bare on YouTube.

Weaponise humour

Humour gives us power. It allows us to turn a prejudice on its head and fight back against injustice. And humour is a skill we can learn. Tracey’s wicked sense of humour was on display throughout her talk, and she uses it to bring a strength and realness to her communications that we can all learn from.

The dehumanisation of stories is the enemy

Tracey used the example of how public discourse has changed over the years from ‘people seeking asylum’ to ‘asylum seekers’ to illustrate that by removing the people from the story we dehumanise them. It is a time to put people back into communications.

Words matter

What we say matters. The words we choose to use matter. Tracey referenced this Barack Obama speech on YouTube.

Fear and comfort 

Early in her career, Tracey worked in talkback radio at 2GB. She was hosting the show like a newsreader, without much emotion, and received the advice that she needed to introduce ‘fear and comfort’ to increase audience engagement. Get people’s attention by getting them engaged with an issue (fear), then offer them a solution/talkback radio station to call (comfort). It’s

Back self-interest

People are interested in the things that impact them. Tracey says finding an angle to a story that people can get agitated about will help you make an impact.

Mix it up 

Not all messages resonate with all people. Not all channels reach all people. Mix it up to ensure you’re reaching the right audience in the right way.

Keep it simple

Don’t overcomplicate your message. Use language that is easy for anyone to understand. Strip out the BS. Tracey is inspired by her children who she says explain issues better than she does at times!


Tracey shared the story of domestic violence and one woman’s experience in Papua New Guinea that lead to a change of law. Although we’re all individuals, there is a universality to the human experience that we can all relate to. Tracey says that by tapping into the universality of people’s stories, we can develop communications that are meaningful and drive real change.

Importance of non-verbal communication

Confidence and authority in communication are essential, and non-verbal communication is a key way to convey these attributes. It’s a great reminder to stay aware of your body language when communicating with others. Tracey had everyone up on their feet to do a power pose (watch Amy Cuddy’s talk on power poses on YouTube) to show we mean business!

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