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Planning how you communicate

If you want to work with people to make a change, good communication is everything. Your group will need to communicate in all kinds of places and spaces and with different people and each other in order to succeed.

It’s not always easy to communicate well together or with others when;

  • People are from different backgrounds

  • People have different experience and skill

  • People have different amounts of time and live in different places

  • Everyone feels very strongly, but maybe differently about the issue.

  • Some people aren't used to speaking out, and some are very used to speaking out and being listened to all the time"

Communicating with each other

Working out the best way to communicate in different situations, for example in your group, with authorities, in formal places, with the public, with potential supporters and on social media, will help you to achieve your mission.

Books have been written on how to communicate well in campaign groups, but it doesn’t have to be a huge issue. Simply thinking about and agreeing how you will communicate at the beginning of a campaign will set you on the right track.

Here are some questions to get you started, or to help you build on what is already working.

1. How often does your group need to meet to make change happen?

2. Can your group meet regularly face to face or do you need to find another way to communicate?

3. What does the group need to be able to communicate with each other?

4. How will your group update each other between meetings? 

5. How can you make sure that everyone is confident to speak up in the group and that no one is taking over the communication?

6. How will you record decisions and ideas to share with others?

7. Who needs to be involved in big decisions / discussions?

8. What ways can you make sure people have a chance to communicate what’s going well and what’s not working for them?

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Communicating with others

Though your group will find a way to communicate that works for them, as soon as you communicate with the outside world the rules change! Sometimes we have to “fit in” to other people’s ways of communicating. How the group is perceived and judged has an Impact on how they will be supported (or not)

It may be that you have people in the group who are better in communicating in certain places - so you may want to pick a spokesperson for different roles including for example;

  • Someone who can communicate in meetings
  • Someone who can deal with media
  • Someone who can communicate with the general public
  • Someone who can communicate with authorities / officials

Here are some ideas to help you communicate effectively with others in the outside world:

  • Know what you want to say (and what you don’t want to say)

  • Be strong and positive

  • Know your facts

  • Know in advance how communication will work, for example,. what amount of time can you have in a meeting? how should your idea be presented?

  • Ask people for questions in advance so you can plan the best answers

  • Don’t communicate until you are ready

  • Prepare information on paper to hand over to back up what you say

  • Plan social media posts (the right time, the right language - no knee jerk reactions!)

  • Think about safety and consent if you are sharing personal experiences / stories

  • Practice with each other how you will deal with difficult questions or questions you don’t want to answer

  • Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know

  • Agree what the group is happy to say to the outside world, and how they want to be seen. Also agree  what is “private” in the group.

  • Make sure written material is spell checked and professional

  • Be sure the conversation can have a positive impact for the group - otherwise it’s just stealing your time (e.g. dealing with trolls or talking to someone who can’t help you)

  • Support each other and learn as you go!