Political Academy Lezhë

Date: 22-24 June 2018, Lezhë, Albania

Training Topic: Political Message Development, Communication and Public Speaking Workshop

Lecturer: Elmedin Kurtovic, Program Manager of NDI Serbia

 

Under the new program for building skills and capacities of young political activists of the “Qemal Stafa” Foundation invited Elmedin Kurtovic, NDI trainer, to provide a training workshop in political message development, communication and public speaking for selected group of young political and civil society activists in the Lezha province. This event is a part of a broader goal to identify potential future political leaders and assist them in implementing various issue-based advocacy campaign projects. Training objectives are as follows:

 

  • To learn the importance of message development and techniques for communicating a campaign message
  • To think through pro-youth and left policies
  • To develop strategies to gain access to the media
  • To learn practical skills to use the media effectively
  • To understand how to get media attention for your issues

 

All topics are covered in a two day workshop that took place in the city of Lezha. At the opening session, Elmedin started with exercises aiming to explain the need for research as a first step in any campaign planning and introducing participants with the concept of collecting and using data to build a campaign strategy, shape campaign message, identify citizens’ issues and make a communication plan. The training continued with message development topic where the trainer explained that a message expresses a vision that would motivate existing supporters and persuade others to support a cause.  It represented the heart of a communications strategy and must therefore be understandable and relatable for the general public that may not be well-informed on the issue. Elmedin emphasized that a message must identify the correct audience, describing the need to focus on citizens, using real terms and simple words. He explained that a good message was clear and concise, demonstrated contrast with opponents, connected with the needs of the voters, and was delivered consistently. A good message would define the campaign, define the opposing view, control the debate, and build support for a campaign.

 

The second day started with discussing different tactics for delivering the campaign message.  The trainer described the various purposes of outreach: to inform, persuade, gather supporters, find volunteers, to get informed, and to know and be known.

Elmedin asked the participants to provide examples of tactics that they used in the past to communicate with voters; answers included distributing materials, door-to-door canvassing, radio broadcasts, and party meetings.  The groups were asked to identify whether certain activities were “hot” or “cold” based on how interactive and personal the activity was.  They were informed that “hot” activities, such as a face to face meeting, would create a more lasting impression than “cold” activities, such as a leaflet or poster which led to conclusion that there is a direct and indirect communication and that the direct one is more effective as it is a two-way exchange of information.  The participants also learned that a good messenger could build the credibility of the message by showing how the messenger could relate to the target group, such as a young person delivering a message related to youth. This was accompanied by an exercise of delivering the message which demonstrated that the message can be completely distorted if it’s not clear, short, emotional, direct and constantly repeated.

 

Following the outreach session, participants came together again in the plenary for a brief presentation on public speaking. Elmedin explained how to effectively communicate a message verbally and non-verbally by using visuals, stories to humanize the point, and simple language. He then gave several helpful hints on how to effectively deliver a speech, including speaking clearly, maintaining good posture, making eye contact, and smiling.  He discussed stage fright and mechanisms to overcome it.  Elmedin emphasized the need to be prepared and to practice repeatedly.  He suggested that they should focus on their message, repeating it several times, and demonstrate why their solutions were different and better than their opponents. He encouraged participants to provide personal examples to connect with listeners and shared their personal experience in public speaking. Trainer also explained interview techniques, how to respond to difficult questions, the bridging technique and tips for TV and radio presentation. This was followed by introducing elements of a press release and presenting effective ways of communicating with mass media. A short introduction to social media campaign was also presented.

 

In the afternoon of the second day of the training, participants were asked to plan a one-minute speech on a topic choised by them and deliver the speech in front of all of the participants.  Each participant planned a short speech that trasmitted the message identified individually. Each speech was then evaluated and participants were provided with feedbacks from their peers and trainer. This speech was a “coronation” of a two days work and the evaluation included implementation of skills and knowledge learned – issue identification, message development and delivery, speech writing and public speaking. Most of the participants have successfully created and delivered a one-minute speech using skills and techniques learned.

 

At the end, participants were assigned with a homework to research and identify important citizens issues in their respective communities, to think about potential solutions and develop a campaign plan to communicate solution trough a comprehensive message.

 

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