The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being saidPeter Drucker
IN-PERSON COMMUNICATION CAN HAVE IT’S BENEFITS
- The bonds are stronger,
- Participation is boosted,
- Misunderstandings reduced
How to improve in-person communication
Want to develop communication skills? Start with respect!
- Think it through. There are many communications frameworks, but if you want to improve your communication skills, start by getting in the habit of thinking through these 5 questions for any communication you create:
Why are you communicating?
Who is the receiver, audience, or participant?
What is your goal or objective? Common objectives of work communications include: to request (resources, participation, permission), to inform, to persuade, to connect. At what stage of your mediation path are you?
- Give it time. Great communication benefits from having enough time to think it through. Plan what you want to say and review your communication to make sure it is actually doing the job you need it to. For written communications, especially, this means: revise, revise, revise. Remember, great communication might seem effortless, but it rarely is.
- Make it easy. For a mediator, communication almost always has a larger goal. People are busy. Don’t make them work too hard to understand what you are saying and what you need them to do. In both written and spoken communications, this often means leading with your main point or objective. State your objective and main point in the beginning so your audience knows where you’re going. Then fill in the details and complications.
- Experiment and diversify. Work on developing different tactics for different communication needs. Focus on experimenting with one aspect of your communication at a time. For example, spend a week paying extra attention to how you structure informal communications. Then spend a week trying different structures for formal meetings or updates.
- Practice and reflect. Be deliberate about reflecting on what goes well and what doesn’t in your day-to-day communications. Maybe an email to a policy maker that didn’t go well: read it again. Can you see how it might have been misinterpreted? What would you do differently next time? Similarly, if a conversation with a peer didn’t yield the expected results, try to identify whether you clearly communicated what you needed.
- Consider the full package. Consider recording yourself through a few interactions to gain insight into what your full package is communicating in your daily interactions with your team. Do you make eye contact? Is your facial expression relaxed and confident, or tense? As a leader, do you invite participation from others? Do you leave space for questions and clarification?
- Seek feedback. Ask a few trusted peers and your mentor/educator to rate your communication skills. Start by asking them to rate (i.e., on a scale of 1-10) your written and spoken communication separately. Then ask these 3 questions:
What one thing should I start doing to communicate better with you?
What one thing should I stop doing in my communications with you?
What one area or skill should I work on to improve how I communicate in this organization?
In-person Events, a powerful engagement tool
If you need to share information with the public, an event is a powerful method. Be clear on:
- What is the purpose or goal of the event? Purpose or goal should always drive your choice of tool.
- How many attendees are you expecting?
- Do you want audience to interact with one another to share information and ideas, or just to recieve the messages
- How much time and/or other resources do you have to prepare for the event? All in-person events require time and planning. Typically, more time and resources are required to plan and implement tools that involve more intensive interaction among stakeholders.
Types of events
Best Suited for
Limited by room size.
Smaller communities and communitise where stakeholders are willing to attend meetings.
Generally designed for smaller groups.
Reaching out to established groups.
Public meetings bring diverse groups of stakeholders together for a specific purpose. Public meetings are held to engage a wide audience in information sharing and discussion. They can be used to increase awareness of an issue or proposal, and can be a starting point for, or an ongoing means of engaging, further public involvement. When done well, they help build a feeling of community.
- Introduces a project or issue to a community
- Provides all participants a chance to voice their concerns, issues, and ideas
- Disseminates detailed information and decisions throughout the community
- Provides opportunities for exploring alternative strategies and building consensus
- Can create consensus for action on complex issues that require broad-based community input
Briefings are generally short presentations provided directly to community groups at their existing meetings or locations – such as social and civic clubs – to provide an overview or update on a project.
- Informs stakeholders of an initiative and provides them with a chance to ask questions
- Keeps key stakeholder groups informed and involved in a less formal and expensive process than large public meetings
- Can be held more frequently than larger public meetings
- Generally used with existing groups who hold meetings
- Are informal and help to build community good will and create a more effective atmosphere for dialogue and responding to specific questions
Recent studies have identified various ways in which online communication is different than communication in person in terms of:
- Body language
- Eye contact
- Perception about silence
How to improve online communication
- Use the communication tools: Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or another provider.
- Use the advocacy tools: Social media relevant to your community, websites and blogging (check out WORDPRESS, WIX, or SQUARESPACE as your free options.
- Schedule regular video calls to your peers and community members
- Work on providing more participation:
- Involve everyone
- Use whiteboards for participation: check out Jamboard
Positive and negative trends for online mediation
Online communicators attempt to compensate for the absence of physical presence and the technical constraints by smiling more and speaking louder.
Strategies are being developed with a goal to improve online communications. Mediators may be able to improve their bond with participants by adapting their communication styles.