Free community engagement tips and skills
 

COMMUNICATION

SUPPORTING ENGAGEMENT THROUGH EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION


#1 Fill the gaps

Remember to communicate even when there is nothing ‘new’ to report. Mitigate the risk of misinformation spreading due to information gaps and remind your stakeholders they aren’t forgotten by regularly confirming project status and next steps. This will build understanding and support faster than irregular or adhoc updates/involvement when it suits you or your project.

#2 Get visual

Complex, technical or heavy information can be transformed through visuals.  An infographic, animation or even a series of photographs can make the difference between uninformed, un-engaged people and people that are interested in and have a good understanding of the issue.

#3 Early planning is key

Effective communication is an essential part of every engagement process.  Ensure your communications team is on board early and has the plans and resources in place to be both responsive and proactive, communicating early and often throughout the process. 

#4 Share generously

To build and maintain trust and credibility, be generous with information - good or bad - and ensure people are able to access what they need and want from you freely and easily. 

#5 Push the envelope

Question and test whether information really needs to remain confidential - have challenging internal discussions about the true (not perceived) risk of releasing all the information at hand. Sometimes, it's less risky in the long run to put all the information on the table in the first place, and remember that information that surfaces or is uncovered part way through a process can be damaging. 

#6 Be flexible, responsive and adaptive

Be prepared to be flexible and responsive throughout your engagement process - don't assume the information you decided to put forward at the beginning is enough on its own.  You need to ensure you are tuning into what your stakeholders/communities are saying and what information they require throughout the life of the project. 

#7 Get your internal ducks in a row

Internal policies and processes can underpin success or failure - communication protocols, frameworks and approval processes need to be fit for purpose.  If they don't allow the organisation to communicate in a timely, tailored, responsive and effective way, a review or internal conversation might be needed. 

#8 Get the tone right

Your communications should reflect a genuine, organisational commitment to understanding, listening, partnerships and collaboration.  An organisation that appears to be trying to congratulate itself, win an argument, publish 'spin' or sell something will find it challenging to build trust and relationships.

 

 

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