Engaging audiences


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Originally posted on the ILRI slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/ILRI/presentations), this is a presentation I gave for the ILRI series of information/communication training workshops 'Komms Klinics' on the topic of 'engagement with stakeholders in research'. It is based on my ILRI work and other personal insights.

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  • These 6 areas cover
  • We’re not talking about: (Just) Engaging in writing
  • Starts off with intent (or sometimes not) And hopefully, moves on towards deeper engagement Hereby an example of engagement in action research There are many forms/levels/depths - be aware of what you get into, or might miss out on.
  • The whole point of engaging is that you want to reach impact and cannot achieve it alone. Otherwise you should spare yourself the sweat
  • Most important is to think about what others want, what’s in it for them? You are going towards them so you have to adapt to them, not ask them to do sthg = exact opposite of supplying research What are the special triggers and levers of action that will bring your counterparts to engage with you and want to do it?
  • Could be that all are grappling with a big question and you need to have a more collective answer to this? Bigger picture, made of more people’s perspectives (and skills)?
  • Could be that you’re dealing with a complex (wicked) problem that needs to get more people to rack their brains to question more because we don’t (yet) know what we’re looking for. You have some questions but you need partners to ‘test’ those questions and see if they make sense, see if they fly Like the ‘ritual dissent’ exercise or ‘dragons den’ you need critical feedback to elaborate your questions … Or better still: you need to co-create better questions together (yes and principle)
  • Engaging actually doesn’t lead to a better atmosphere (just there and then). It takes a lot of time but once it’s there, comes the joy of working together, making sense together, creating together, grappling together, and appreciating each other’s positive and critical feedback. Further down the line it creates trust. We know each other through ordeals and fights, issues and more…
  • If you engage people that have a crucial stake (stake holders) and work based on trust, you build ownership towards a better future. For research this means you might have more people follow and use your research, and change their lives. For any initiative (web platform or other tool) it means there’s people that will help scale it on, up and out.
  • F2F is the most powerful (recent Yammer survey for CPWF: 98% of respondents thought F2F was very useful or useful to engage). But of course it takes resources. But it happens all the time. And this means you try and build events that bring people together and make the best use of their presence (no death by PPT etc.) Even at the level of meetings, you can spend lots of time and resources and peoples trust with terribly ineffective meetings or get to the point, chair, facilitate and document a meeting, come back to it afterwards and ensure that you are building upon people’s commitments, developing energy in the process.
  • In the field, what does it mean: (Hereby an example from NBDC work with local innovation platforms) Through field visits, exchange visits, local events, ongoing work Build a rapport with farmers etc. – that they see you come regularly, care for their work and perspective/opinion and bring sthg of value to them too; Use the correct language (and level of language e.g. no jargon etc.) it’s about creating an ‘us’ approach, not an ‘us and them’. Sometimes it’s just about listening and building trust this way. And this is f2f so arguably the deepest level – but once again very time-consuming and expensive so we need other ways…
  • That’s where social media come in handy – they are tools that are designed to be social and about interaction and engagement, with a keen eye on replies, likes, conversations, ratings etc. to provide feedback. From very interactive tools (social networks e.g. Yammer, Twitter etc.) to repositories with lots of options to download, follow etc. Hereby Zerihun showing how he works with Yammer
  • Engagement is about ongoing action and interaction. Everywhere and all the time. Not possible in practice but this is what we strive for to get results. Important to focus though!
  • Avoid the typical research project problem:
  • Engagement can be declined in various activities: here a CPWF example of various research comms roles: from engagement (throughout) to communicate about the project, document process, communicate about the science and communicate the science in the end.
  • For people to trust you, you need to remain authentic (you gain their respect) But to retain them you need to show you care for them: give credit to the people you work with Share a lot of stuff (knowledge is power replaced with ‘sharing knowledge is power’  all sources pointing to connected people) Keep it fun (where appropriate) my personal advice anyhow But focused anyhow too because relevance is all that matters (WIIFM) Here Andy Jarvis at a CCAFS workshop candidly mentioning he didn’t have the answers for farmers
  • This means your ‘audiences’ should listen carefully (not half-heartedly) and be receptive to your idea (language and relevance again?)
  • But then this applies to both of you It’s not about me to them, it’s about ‘us’ together, even though clearly people keep their own agenda (and that’s fine)
  • Takes more than just that: Is it clear what each is gaining? Is there trust or an intent to build it? Has there been much time going into engagement (and relentless: all the time / everywhere) Honest broker / process facilitation can perhaps help if you can afford: whether online (moderator) or offline (coordinator) [Here Livestock Exchange with hard talk and clear trustworthy set of questions]
  • Like the scale, there’s also a series of activities. [Here from the Comms perspective: above engagement from very light and uni-directional to complex and multi-directional – and underneath the activities to support this work]
  • So again, design interactive events with high focus on participation: it’s costly to capture audiences with PPTs (even though content inputs are clearly important) – it’s about the social learning taking place there, and the fun and the grappling which create a bond and mutual respect. [Here the same CCAFS workshop] But not just workshops, also events – design participatory processes e.g. consultation process on ILRI strategy with Livestock X, high level consultation, series of blog posts, SurveyMonkey, f2f events and more…
  • [Here an example of documentation of an engaging event: pictures, videos etc. are another way to engage people (in a variety of formats for different learning styles)
  • Social media as mentioned before – with others – developing a personal network or community of interest on various topics, with which you can engage – seen as increasingly important for personal and organizational learning. But also just to ensure cooperation and collaboration is documented and can be tracked/available at all times.
  • [Here an example of documentation of an engaging event: pictures, videos etc. are another way to engage people (in a variety of formats for different learning styles)] And commenting! A wiki can also be used to work collaboratively.
  • Here example of the Africa RISING wiki used for the events (preparing people + reporting live sessions + follow up)
  • Another one: the AgShareFair with survey etc. and one platform to keep it all in one place.
  • Using blogs to report docs – for participants to find out what was said and that their opinion and engagement matters (not just token) – very important or run the risk of engagement fatigue.
  • Interesting concept from a recent blog post: Work out loud: mention what you do so that others can contribute to your reflection and use your reflection to improve their own work.
  • Yammer: a great way to do this: to ask questions, to converse, to respond to one another, to inform others about outputs or just ongoing work, visitors etc. – connecting the dots and working out loud. [Here the NBDC Yammer, used by various people]
  • Twitter: at ILRI used mainly for corporate sending of news but still garners answers and is being followed by many (engages others) and can be used in much more interactive ways.
  • Collaborative research, action-research and IP/MSPs/LA work to have more people contribute. Highest and costliest form of investment but can really pay off. E.g. in RiPPLE arguably – in some other projects from previous work the only reason for getting payment.
  • Here NBDC national platform which is one of the types of platforms at stake where policies are looked into and various working groups (developed during that meeting in December last year) are coordinating their inputs.
  • [Here a stakeholder matrix looking at influence and importance to assess who really matters). A matters most: get them as champions or address them in priority. B use them as change agents. C have them as advocates and publicity for your initiative.
  • In your team it’s somewhat easier: you know each other, share some common language, experience etc. know your skills. But it makes it more difficult: we know each other’s hobby horses etc. Keys to successful engagement: Clear roles and responsibilities; Exciting work and perhaps delegation; Praise in public and criticize privately; Regular team meetings to ensure all are on board; Informal checks; Encourage sharing etc. to develop a culture and progressively move on to critical learning and questioning (moving up on the engagement ladder)
  • Do you know why they’re in? Do you know what they’re after? Why are they interested in your initiative? Per-diems? Prestige? Innovation? Clarify each other’s expectations and keep the pulse regularly with them; ‘ Partnerships’ can be abused so pay attention to what this means for them; Check for tensions re: use of language, specific agenda items etc, relations with other partners etc. and continual dialogue to see how things are doing; Work with them – do participatory workskhops with them, give them responsibilities, share M&E/learning with them.
  • In the field, what does it mean: (Hereby an example from NBDC work with local innovation platforms) Through field visits, exchange visits, local events, ongoing work Build a rapport with farmers etc. – that they see you come regularly, care for their work and perspective/opinion and bring sthg of value to them too; Use the correct language (and level of language e.g. no jargon etc.) it’s about creating an ‘us’ approach, not an ‘us and them’. Sometimes it’s just about listening and building trust this way. And this is f2f so arguably the deepest level – but once again very time-consuming and expensive so we need other ways…
  • Research evidence only one of 23 issues that matter to influence policy-makers More important to build rapport with them than anyone else (they’re time-starved) Perhaps with their secretaries/informers Once rapport is here you can push back to more critical; Time matters – check their reform calendar; Invest in policy engagement or partner with those that master it.
  • Again mentioned before: many partners but it takes a lot of time and effort and resources.
  • You ask yourself: what’s the time for it? - If your research requires engagement, then take the time, it pays off. And most likely mean you are more relevant for more people
  • Engaging audiences

    1. 1. Engaging audiences in our research Presentation by Ewen Le Borgne and Tsehay Gashaw ILRI Komms Klinics session Addis Ababa, 6 June 2012
    2. 2. The Komms Klinics approach• Away from (just) tools, into communication processes• Six broad communication areas• Tools are still part of the picture• Awareness raising and hands-on training sessions• More trainers, more trainees
    3. 3. The Komms Klinics approach
    4. 4. Overview1. What is it?2. Why engage?3. Where and when?4. How?5. With whom?6.| What more?
    5. 5. 1. What is engagement?
    6. 6. 1. What is engagement?• Ongoing exchange, conversation, interest, action• Motivated by one or both but fuelled – progressively it becomes important for both
    7. 7. 1. What is engagement?
    8. 8. 1. What is engagement?• Hopefully leading to greater outcomes • 1+1=3
    9. 9. 2. Why engage?
    10. 10. 2. Why engage? WIIFM?What’s in it for me?
    11. 11. 2. Why engage? Bigger pictureAnd a wider skillset
    12. 12. 2. Why engage?Better questions
    13. 13. 2. Why engage?Better atmosphere More trust!
    14. 14. 2. Why engage?Long term, sustainable resultsOr targeted short resultsResearch uptake
    15. 15. 3. Where and when?
    16. 16. 3. Where and when?At effective meetings andevents
    17. 17. 3. Where and when?In the field
    18. 18. 3. Where and when?In online conversationspacesUsing social media
    19. 19. 3. Where and when?Everywhere
    20. 20. 3. Where and when?When?
    21. 21. 3. Where and when?When?All the time!
    22. 22. 4. How to engage?
    23. 23. 4.How to engage?You: Remain authenticGive creditShare!!! Keep it fun But focused
    24. 24. 4.How to engage?Them: Listen Be receptive Be sensitive
    25. 25. 4.How to engage?YouThem Them=You =Them You
    26. 26. 4.How to engage?You & them: a culture ofengagementClarity TrustTime & relentless effortsCollaboration & compromiseHonest broker/ process facilitation
    27. 27. 4.How to engage?Activities:
    28. 28. 4.How to engage (in practice)?Designing participatorymeetings, events, processes
    29. 29. 4. How to engage (in practice)
    30. 30. 4.How to engage (in practice)?Using open, social, engagingtools, solicitingfeedbackSocialMedia
    31. 31. 4. How to engage (in practice)
    32. 32. 4. How to engage (in practice)
    33. 33. 4. How to engage (in practice)?
    34. 34. 4. How to engage (in practice)?
    35. 35. 4.How to engage (in practice)?Sharing your work(work out loud)
    36. 36. 4.How to engage (in practice)?
    37. 37. 4.How to engage (in practice)?
    38. 38. 4.How to engage (in practice)?Doing research differently(innovation, action research,MSPs)
    39. 39. 4.How to engage (in practice)?
    40. 40. 5. With whom?
    41. 41. 5.With whom?Your team?
    42. 42. 5.With whom?Your partners?
    43. 43. 5. With whom?Farmers?
    44. 44. 5.With whom?Policy-makers, donors?
    45. 45. 5.With whom?Via multi-stakeholderplatforms?
    46. 46. A quick summary perhaps?
    47. 47. Summary• Engage because it matters for sustainable results• Engage on the scale• Through meetings and social tools• Throughout activities (all the time!)• With authenticity, time, trust, continuous efforts, a careful process• With various parties, from team to MSPs
    48. 48. 6. What’s more?
    49. 49. Resources• This session on the ILRI training wiki• Examples of (events and more) on the ILRI Maarifa blog• Engaging policy makers• ODI’s approach to engagement• Social learning examples in the workplace• The approach of ‘Working out loud’• Engaging stakeholders (pt. 3) in ‘Food security and global environmental change’• How livestock do research and with whom determines what their science achieves (ILRI Clippings)
    50. 50. More about Komms Klinics• Visit our Komms Klinics training wiki: http://ilri-training.wikispaces.com• Find out more and contact Tsehay, Ewen or Peter• Find answers to communication questions: http://ilri-comms.wikispaces.com• Find out about the activities of ILRI’s communication team: http://infoilri.wordpress.com
    51. 51. International Livestock Research Institute Better lives through livestock A a l a g ric ulture to re d uc e p o v e rty , hung e r a nd nim e nviro nm e nta l d e g ra d a tio n in d e v e lo p ing c o untrie s ILRI  www.ilri.org