C4D, Communication, Communication Practitioner, Communication Tips

IT’s NOT THE WORKSHOP, IT’s YOU: How to maximize your benefits everytime

It's not the workshop

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By: Shanoy Coombs

I started writing this post a while back and initially intended to cover the more negative aspects of workshops along the lines of “Why workshops don’t work in your favour” but now I’m sitting at the Social and Behaviour Change Communication summit here in Bali, Indonesia, soaking up so much knowledge and strategizing my next behaviour change moves that it shifted my tone.

Frankly, my initial trepidation and negative undertone was brought on by a few workshops that I had attended previously and sometimes left asking “Now what?” In fact, outside of my own skepticism, I’ve also interacted with other persons who have sometimes viewed workshops as “good for a time” or one of those “At least I get a break from the office” sort of affairs.

Now today, reformed, energized and ready to be more of a do gooder and change maker, I am more of a believer and want you to know that It’s not the workshop, It’s you! Quite a brazen conclusion but I’ve deliberately left off the “some workshops” and here’s why:

 

DO YOUR RESEARCH: Chances are, your bad workshop experience is linked to what you felt did not cover key areas you were interested in or were not engaging enough.  Having coordinated and attended more than a few workshops over the past decade, I’ve discovered that a major way to avoid this pitfall is to thoroughly research the workshop, its objectives, the presenters and how they align to what your or your organization’s goals are. Sure your Human Resources Manager may have been handed a flier that pitched the session as “Highly effective for building strategic communication” but as the practitioner, your probe may reveal that the topics are ones you may already have been exposed to or the approach is one which may add no real value to your current post.

it's not the workshop, it's you!

                                                           HAVE A GAME PLAN: Workshops, like conferences, summits et al can provide an excellent opportunity for meeting your personal and organizational goal, if you are strategic in your doing.  Does the workshop or conference provide a list of speakers? Sponsors? Attendees? Are there specific persons you would love to connect with, unique best practices you are targeting?  Write or type these down, Your pre- workshop preparation is as important if not more important than your actual presence.  Plan ahead and maximize the value of being there

 

SCHEDULE AND PRIORITIZE: If you were to only do 2 sessions from any conference or workshop, which would it be? Seek to access workshop or conference materials ahead of sessions and carefully prioritize which are more impactful for your goals or your end game.  I learnt this pretty early in but needed the reminder more than ever while at the Social and Behaviour Change communication summit while looking at agendas with close to 1200 attendees competing to book skills building workshops and fit into  a diverse range of presentations, multiple “Interest sessions” running at the same time and almost everything being in line with my end game.  It helped when I utilized the summit  app and news and updates/ daily digest features to schedule sessions in order of “must dos” and alternates. Continue reading “IT’s NOT THE WORKSHOP, IT’s YOU: How to maximize your benefits everytime”

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Communication, Communication Tips, Flexibility, Uncategorized

The Millennials: Understanding and communicating with them

• THOSE MILLENIALS •

By: Shanoy Coombs

While the discussions around millennials (those born approximately between 1982 and 2000) and some communication challenges have been ongoing, recent conversations in the local space shows that the challenges continue. This again brings to the fore the need to highlight how best to communicate with “the millennials”.  Indeed a Jamaica Gleaner article dated November 5, 2017 opined:

At the same time, even Generation X, which just preceded the Millennials, seem to bristle in interactions with them. One common theme is that the liberal philosophy, brashness and sense of entitlement that is often exhibited by Millennials, flies in the face of the discipline, patience and struggle that is integral to the lives of those who have gone before. It smacks of disrespect and/or ignorance.

– Trevor E. Smith, Jamaica Gleaner

While the article goes on to highlight some of the ways in which millennials and other generations may be better able to move beyond their differences, I found Grossman’s piece on communication with the next “Next generation” to be compelling as it indicates that millennials too feel misunderstood. Indeed I hinted at this when I spoke about the flexibility required by modern communicators.

Given the clear difference of opinions and what may constitute a productivity divide, the info graphic below summarizes typical millennial characteristics which can foster better communication with them/ me/ us 🙂

The Next “Next Generation”_ Communicating with Millennials

Having assessed some of the challenges expressed by those who work with millennials and the characteristics of these millennials, it brings to the fore yet another issue that can easily be addressed via communication.  Not communication in a very technical sense but the art of interacting with each other, providing channels for feedback and arriving at sustainable solutions. So the next time you are tempted to gasp “ughhh those millenials” or “Omg, no one understands us millenials”, your easiest solution may be to start off with a conversation.  This should be done in an effort to get a better understanding of each other and the expectations in a productive space. Again, we already know the power of communication towards engagement and collaboration and now we are equipped with characteristics, so let’s make it a priority even in our immediate space.  Importantly too, it benefits all to remember that the ‘top down’ approach to communication doesn’t work! Engagement does!

Are you a millennial? What are some of the communication challenges you face within the productive space? Share these in the comments below. Do you interact with millennials, what are some of your major issues? Need communication guidelines? Let me help you create that story!

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============================================================================Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication Consultant in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy  on twitter via @InspiraShan and learn more about her work via the projects page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Communication for Development, Communication Tips, Intercultural Communication, Second Language, Uncategorized

Bridging the Multicultural Divide: Why Caribbean Nationals NEED to learn a second language

By: Shanoy Coombs

Second language postAs a Development Communication person, I tend to find communication lessons everywhere and a few weeks ago when I was among a group of students from the German-Jordanian University, it was no different.  As this diverse group of students were in the middle Eastern country, Jordan for immersive experiences while learning the Arabic language, it brought some important language lessons to the fore.  With courses ranging from one semester to an entire year, I was bemused by the emphasis placed on acquisition of a second (and in some instances a third  language).  As I struggled with basic Arabic terms, it took me back to something I have always been almost preachy about-that Caribbean nationals NEED to learn a second language.

This has long been apparent to me while working within the United Nation’s Latin America and the Caribbean cluster.  I recall with much clarity that the monthly regional Communicators meetings had in excess of two thirds of the attendees being from Spanish Speaking countries.  It was even more worrying that most attendees from the Spanish speaking territories could speak and understand English with some clarity but not vice versa.

More compellingly, I recall working along with colleagues from Chile and Venzuela to translate a series of Petro Caribe related documents-all published in Spanish and needing to be readied for the English heavy Jamaican media.   It dawned on me then with much force, that my colleagues by virtue of their ability to move between the English and Spanish languages had better equipped themselves for regional posts within the organization.  That fact hit me with such a blunt force that I refocused my efforts on at least grasping Spanish.  This realization and my recent Arabic immersion compelled me to list some of the reasons why Caribbean Nationals NEED to learn a second language:

  1. Regional Commonsense:  By virtue of our geographic location, the Caribbean will likely forever be looped with Latin America.  It is therefore commonsense that Caribbean people start with a second language such as Spanish to better assist us to navigate trade and other relations throughout the region.
  2. Personal Good: If you love meeting new people as much as I do, then this is a no brainer. Some of my most meaningful conversations have been struck in airport lounges, coffee shops and other common areas while travelling with persons from other nationalities  utilizing my intermediate level Spanish skills.
  3. Business Development: Sure you can hire a translator, but on the odd account that you are travelling for business solo or negotiating a new deal as a young entrepreneur, it is useful and beneficial to be able to interact at the basic level in the native language.  Besides, the ability to communicate in a native language can set the tone for better reception and even lifelong friendships thereafter.
  4. Added Value/Competitive Edge: Increasingly, as we forge ahead in this ‘global marketplace’ a second language should be as second nature as utilizing technology across borders. Indeed, in some professions it already is and in toe to toe job interviews for example, your ability to interact in a second language can be the deciding factor.
  5. Adaptability: So you want added opportunities and you want to be recognized as a “global minded” individual? One of the easiest ways to actually earn this title is to adequately prepare yourself to be recognized as such. Being able to speak a second language puts you in a better professional position to bridge several multi cultural barriers and essentially shows that you are diverse, adaptable and possess the ability to interact with other cultures.

Communication industry wise, I’m going out on a limb to say ALL Communication professionals (Journalists, Public Relations practitioners, Development Communication Specialists, Behaviour change and Corporate communication officers etc) and indeed anyone with the intention to do business outside of their own country’s shores should be equipped with a second language.  This becomes more imperative if you are trying to diversify your service offerings across borders and cultures.  Notably too “Cross culture” and “Intercultural communication” continues to be industry buzz words that aren’t likely to disappear soon. Hence NOW is the time to ensure you are meaningfully engaged in this “world without borders” paradigm.

From my end, there is much merit in being a bi or multi-lingual development communication specialist and so I’m continuing the fluency pursuit con El Espanol. Who knows too, having grown a new appreciation for the Arabic language after being so thoroughly  immersed during my recent middle Eastern hop, it may just be my next language to fully pursue.

It is heartening too that for a while now, the Jamaican Government has been encouraging more citizens to learn Spanish as second language.  Whether or not there are fully mapped plans in place to ensure there is island wide take up is another situation. Frankly, having studied Spanish as a high schooler, I am now seeing major merit in  advancing to sit same in the local Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exams.  In fact, mandatory Spanish at the examination level may be just the start to ensure there is widespread take up.

Otherwise, the Venezuelan Institute in several Caribbean countries offers free Spanish lessons from the Basic to post-superior level.  There are also local language centers which offer Spanish, French and other language lessons and remotely, several online platforms offer engaging language studies. Still, Caribbean Nationals can also learn languages by immersion at neighboring countries where the language of choice is the native language.

Are you a bi or multi lingual professional? What are some of the benefits you have reaped as such? What are your favourite channels by which to learn a new language? Have you learnt a new language via cultural immersion? Share in the comments below.

P.S. Read about my “Jamaican in Jordan” feature in The Gleaner. 

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Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication Consultant in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy  on twitter via @InspiraShan and learn more about her work via the projects page

 

Audience segmentation, Communication, Communication Consultant, Communication for Development, Communication Practitioner, Communication Tips, Development Communication, Public Relations

Communicators know: The “General Public” isn’t so “General” after all…

COMMUNICATORS KNOW

By: Shanoy Coombs

A few weeks ago, I was invited on a panel to assess a series of University behavior change campaigns. I sat, intrigued and engaged as varied final year students went into the strategies and tactics they intended to use to reach their different audiences. As one group presented, they went into how they’d effectively utilize traditional forms of communication to reach the “general public”.  The group went on to highlight why radio was selected and the intended outcome via that medium.

As the panel queried the reason for radio for a community level intervention, a team member shrugged “Well we want everyone to know about it”.  A series of questions, comments and other suggestions later, it was revealed that radio would not have been the ideal medium for the audience in question.  In fact, it was revealed that a direct community level intervention such as a community/town hall meeting would have been more appropriate and effective to achieve the intended objectives.

This example brings me back to current realities where the “general public” is a constant phrase in several communication programme discussions.  You may have heard the term tossed around as you were briefed by a programmes unit, head of office, Managing Director and CEO.  Often it is accompanied by the words “We want everyone to know what we are doing”. Realistically, wanting “everyone to know” is not a bad objective, however as many communicators should be able to advise, within that “everyone” group can be found several specific groups including youth, children, adults, men, women, senior citizens, English Speakers, people who listen to the radio, those who watch TV at specific times, those who read specific publications and even those who only consume content from electronic platforms.  I say all of this to say, generally, audiences are not so general after all.  Continue reading “Communicators know: The “General Public” isn’t so “General” after all…”

Communication, Communication Consultant, Communication Tips

What Messages Am I Sending? Inspiring Teenagers to communicate with clarity.

what messages am I sending_

 

 

 

 

 

 

In late 2016, I spoke to a group of teenagers during a Flourish Mentorship programme session under the theme “What Messages Am I sending?” During this presentation I sought to highlight several aspects of communication in a ‘teen friendly way’.  In addition to firstly defining Communication, I broke down the key messages around major concepts related to:

  • What we Say versus What we MEAN
  • HOW we say what we say and how others INTERPRET it
  • Non verbal communication/BODY LANGUAGE
  • Speech APPROPRIATENESS-friends versus adults versus officials
  • How we communicate via SOCIAL MEDIA and effects on language Development

In keeping the presentation engaging for my teenaged audience (13-19 years), I crafted an acronym to help them remember the key points:

  • Manner
  • Expressions
  • Sound
  • Say
  • Audience
  • General Appearance
  • Expectation
  • Social Media

The full presentation can be viewed via my slideshare uploads 

 

what messages am I sending_

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Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication Consultant in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy  on twitter via @InspiraShan and learn more about her work via the projects page.

Communication, Communication Tips, Uncategorized

Tis the season’ and some communication lessons

I love the Christmas season for more reasons than one! Commercialization aside, this festive period  is indeed the most wonderful time of the year for persons like me who are big on family.   Importantly too, the Christmas season remains special because it is a time when I get to utilize one of my favourite medium of communication most- Face to Face!

You see with the evolution of Communication, the medium have become wide and varied to include:

  • Face to Face communication
  • Two way remote communication (Cell phone calls and texts, video calls)
  • Written Communication (Letters, Emails, sms)
  • Social Media Communication (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In et al)
  • Electronic Communication (Radio, Television)

    and even magazines and billboards-Cue Drake sending Rihanna a Congrats message via Billboard) .  Truthfully, these varied media do have a place and numerous functions, yet especially at Christmas nothing beats more personal forms of communication for me.

While I basked in the glory of some quality time over the holidays, it got me thinking about some important communication lessons especially during this time of the year: Continue reading “Tis the season’ and some communication lessons”