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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 3

GROUPING BY COUNTRY: The meeting room was organized around seven tables, one per Country. The vast majority of the activities were carried out on a “National Group” basis. We had to face logistic problems as the table in the room were very hard to move and the configuration with seven “islands” could hardly be transformed during the day. Anyhow, our approach resulted to be positive and stimulated the Teamwork.

Suggestion: dedicate much attention to the facility and the logistic issues. It is a crucial point as most of the meeting rooms are equipped with very traditional furniture that does not stimulate interaction. Big round tables work as obstacles rather than platforms for communication while small mobile tables work much better.

The Mali Team

As a compensation for the logistic difficulties, we used every activity to offer the National Teams the opportunity to interact with the others, promoting discussions and sharing at different levels.
In particular, the long session dedicated to the exposition of the Case Study offered an effective occasion to interact personally and as a group with the other Teams, creating very interesting dynamics.
The use of mobile microphones helped in maintaining the sessions vivid and generate dynamism during the discussions.

SOCIAL REPORTING TEAM: The creation a Social Reporting Team wanted to be an additional prodding for the group. It responded to two main objectives:

  •   To show the potential of social media to advocate for the event during and after the event, and
  •   To integrate off-site participants into the discussions and sessions of the Workshop.

The idea of creating the SR Team was proposed to the participants few days before the beginning of the Workshop to avoid overlapping with other ongoing activities (in particular, with the preparation of the Case Study). The participation was strictly on a voluntary basis to guarantee the full commitment of the members. The SR Team gathered for the very first time Sunday afternoon, for an informal meeting, to discuss: the idea, the background, the TORs, and the tasks distribution. Three people, other than me, took part to the meeting:

  • Djalo Mamadu Aliu, from Guinea Bissau, who became the blogger on the FSCA website,
  • Bah Thierno Souleymane, from Guinea, who committed himself to audio and video interviews,
  • Oumar Ndiaye, from Senegal, who offered to dedicate to photography,
  • Luca Servo, who acted as team coordinator and photo reporter.

Mrs Fofana, from Guinea, joined the Team during Day 1, adding lots of energy and more gender balance to the group. Additional informal meetings to verify the proceeding of the job took place during lunches and coffee breaks all week long. By the end of the Workshop, the SR Team produced:

  • A blog on the FSCA website, which recorded everyday activities and the impressions of the participants,
  • A photo gallery, on the FSCA flickr gallery, registering the main moments, the portraits of the participants and the groups, and all the posters produced during the week containing the results of the Team work,
  • A podcast channel broadcasting several interviews recorded during the week,
  • A twitter flow reporting about major steps taking place during the training.

THEMATIC ACTIVITIES: The facilitation Team had the objective to promote major integration among participants. To do so, we organized also several thematic events during lunch time which were called “Cross Cutting Gatherings – CCG”. The badge provided to each participants collected a series of information (name, country, and role) which helped organizing these events. In fact, using his/her badge, it was possible to address each participant to the right table of discussions during the thematic events which were:

  1. CCG I – Initial meeting by ROLE (Tuesday, lunch) to stimulate contacts within homogeneous groups of people with similar tasks inside the projects (Project staff, NPCs/NPDs/NPMs, ComDev consultants). The Facilitation Team got this occasion to join the group of National Project Coordinators.
  2. CCG IITHEMATIC lunch (Wednesday, lunch) to offer the chance to discuss specific topics identified by the participants.
  3. CCG III – Final meeting by ROLE (Friday, lunch) to ideally close the round of contacts within groups with similar tasks. The Facilitation Team got this chance to join the group of Communication Consultants.

CONCLUSIONS: The Workshop was a great success. We were able to get participants fully involved in the activities and develop high level of interaction. The final evaluation demonstrated the appreciation for the adoption of new techniques, an informal approach and a participatory methodology.

This experience strongly confirmed our beliefs and suggestions: we highly recommend to embed the Communication for Development component in every Development project/programme and to develop such a Workshop, at least twice during the life of a project: once at the very beginning of the implementation and another one at the very end.

Lots of interaction and discussion during the FSCA workshop in Dakar

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 1
  2. Lesson learned 2


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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 2

ComDev Workshop scheduleSCHEDULE: the Facilitation Team agreed on dedicating five full days to ComDev. One can argue that it is not enough time but for us, given the background and the resources, this was a good compromise. In line with the objectives, the agenda was divided into five main Steps and several activities. Every step was described in an ad-hoc agenda which was distributed to the participants before the beginning of the Workshop:

1. BASICS (1/2 day)

  • Intro to workshop about KEY points of the week
  • Description of the OBJECTIVES of the training
  • Proposal of a people-centred approach to describe the projects through people’s perspective
  • Overview of the projects’ innovative aspects and main benefits
  • Collective reflection on the beneficiaries’ perception, expectation and participation with regards to the project
  • ComDev component-activities to date and first impressions

2. COMDEV THEORY (1/2 day)

  • Theoretical background
  • Communication planning
  • Gender and Communication
  • Methodological approaches tools
  • Tools, channels, techniques
  • ComDev strategy design
  • Monitoring & Evaluation

3. COMDEV FOR FSCA-PISA PROJECTS (2 and 1/2 days)

  • Analysis of Communication Issues in FSCA projects
  • Success vs Constrains: Identification of communication issues
  • Presentation of Case Studies
  • Matching Constraints with Solutions
  • Regional approach
  • Networking Initiatives
  • FSCA forward looking: Ideas for the future and Collaborations&synergies

4. LABORATORIES (1 day)

  • Web Lab
  • Photo Lab
  • Radio Lab
  • Video Lab
  • Mobile Telephony Lab

5. CONCLUSIONS (1/2 day)

  • Workshop Evaluation
  • Closing session

In addition, we prepared also a detailed plan for facilitators only, with more information such as: name of the facilitator, learning objectives, description and details of the activity, facilitation technique, materials and specific support required, and a long list of notes taken during the prep meetings.
These notes were very important to give a shape to the flow of the training and collect all the reflections done by the Team members during the preparatory works: I strongly suggest to collect them. It really helps keeping record of the logical evolution of the planning as you can easily lose track when the preparation takes long.

FACILITATION METHODS: we decided to adopt a specific facilitation method for each session of the training. This choice had 2 objectives: offer the participants the occasion to test the widest range of new methods, and organize dynamic sessions introducing different kind of incentives. As a result, we carried out:

  • A Chat show, with the communication consultants, to introduce the actors and their work,
  • A World café, finalized to learn more about expectations, perceptions, and participation of the beneficiaries in the field,
  • A Case Study exercise, to highlight a specific obstacle encountered in the implementation of the ComDev strategy,
  • A SWOT Analysis, to make a collective effort of analysing good and bad aspects of each project,
  • The network mapping, to graphically design communication flows inside and outside the National teams and develop a visual approach to communication,
  • The mind mapping, to discuss the objectives of the national projects and their inter-regional connections,
  • The Wall of participants, to link names with faces and put people in contact,
  • A public Rules collection, to have the participants fully engaged in the workshop,
  • A Dotmocracy, to collect a final feedback on the main aspects the workshop,
  • The Social Reporting Team, to provide direct feedback on the activities and get participants involved in the use of Social Media.

Network mapping

Moreover, in the effort to stimulate higher attention in the audience, the Facilitation Team decided to avoid powerpoint presentation. Initially, this decision provoked astonishment in the participants but it produced positive results in stimulating people’s fantasy and creativity, especially during the presentation of the Case Studies (see the photo below!).

The Team of Guinea presenting the Case Study about mangue

Introducing important tools like the Case Study exercise and the SWOT analysis were significant steps. At the end of the training, we asked for a punctual evaluation both of them, receiving, respectively, a 52% and a 70% of positive votes.

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 1
  2. Lesson learned 3


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FSCA-PISA Workshop on ComDev: Lessons learned 1

The training on Communication for Development organized for the FSCA-PISA programme was a great success. We saw enthusiasm and a lot of interaction during the five days spent in Dakar with the seven National Teams. Now it is time to put order among all the innovations we introduced. My first notes are about the Organization and the Language issue.

The participants to the Training in ComDev

  • ORGANIZATION: the FAO Facilitation Team composed by Riccardo, Silvia, Antonello, Catherine, Elena and I worked for long time on the preparatory activities. The original idea of delivering a technical training was launched early 2010 and evolved into a broader event, aimed at discussing ComDev in general.
    The debate on the objectives took long. At the end, we decided to approach ComDev as a whole rather than focusing on a specific tool (the web, in our case). This choice answered to the perceived need to clarify ComDev concepts and details among the FSCA National teams.
    The first discussions took place before Christmas. At the beginning we defined objectives, target audience and a draft calendar of activities. Then, one meeting after the other, we got into each macro activity to define it in details, from the learning objectives to a precise timetable.

Opening of the FSCA-PISA Training on ComDev

  • 7 COUNTRIES and 2 LANGUAGES: the language issue was one of the main problem to afford. Both the organization and the content were strongly influenced by this factor, in every step of the preparation. The initial idea of having two different sessions, one for the Anglophones and another one for the Francophones, was abandoned in favour of one single workshop with interpretation provided to the two groups. As a consequence, the budget, the agenda, the schedule, the content and the logistic were deeply affected.
    I admit that this was the right choice to do: being an introductory training to a strongly participative but relatively new discipline for the participants, the one-group approach highlighted all its strengths. At the end of the event, people’s appreciation for meeting all together confirmed this idea.
    Suggestion: do not underestimate the problems and the costs due to interpretation of the workshop and the translation of the documentation. Moreover, test the ability of the interpreters and provide them the training material well in advance.

Read also:

  1. Lesson learned 2
  2. Lesson learned 3


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Ten tips to improve your presentations

Engaging people during a meeting is one of the most difficult tasks a professional can face.

meeting on rural radio

While listening to a recent presentation, I put together some suggestions:

  1. Content is fundamental BUT the way to present it is at least as important as content
  2. VARY THE WAY to present your content to the audience. Do NOT adopt common methods but use a different style. The surprise will “shake” the audience and attract the attention, provoking emotions: this is the reason why, NOWADAYS, my suggestion is NOT to use .ppt presentations. They have been abused and, as a consequence, not able to stimulate reactions any more as the audience is TOO used to them
  3. AVOID the term PRESENTATION: it is always better “to meet people”, “to dialogue with them”, “to discuss about a certain topic” rather than to PRESENT them something, giving a clear one-way direction to the meeting
  4. Your VOICE is fundamental. The TONE and the VOLUME are key elements to engage with people in front of you
  5. Use IMAGES and CARDS as they can help to provoke emotions and reactions in the people listening to your speech
  6. Start speech with the CORE of your message, to capture the attention of the audience, and THEN provide more details and explanation of specific aspects
  7. DO NOT SIT behind you laptop during the presentation. Stand up and walk around the room. You need to add dynamism to the situation. If you have ten people sitting around a table, standing there for 1 hour or more, they need continuous stimulation to maintain their attention vivid and to the point. Otherwise you will loose their attention
  8. KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) Principle has to be always in your mind. Even if you like to talk, try to be as short as possible and keep your talking to the point (be sure with previous assessment and questions about what the exact point is)
  9. PREPARE EVERYTHING WELL IN ADVANCE and be sure that everything works in front of the audience at the right time. Otherwise you will offer a bad idea since the beginning
  10. Make your audience LAUGH. It always works

Note: if you see people yawning or leaving the room in advance, it is a clear sign that you have to go quickly to either the point or the conclusion of the speech!


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2010 Scriptwriting Competition is starting

Liliane and I are ready to evaluate the entries for the 2010 Scriptwriting Competition organized by Farm Radio International. This year the topic is “Using radio to share stories about healthy communities“: 68 scripts have been selected to take part to the first round of the competition.

Check the list of participants.


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AMARC 10 opens today

Greetings to all the participants to AMARC 10, the world Conference of AMARC that is opening today in La Plata, Argentina. I’m really willing to know more about what’s going on there.

The draft Agenda and the Concept of the Conference.