Southern Voice hosts its first communications workshop

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by Gabriela Keseberg Dávalos, Head of Communications

What does a teddy bear have in common with a blog post? Can a presentation about research findings be done only with images? And what is the connection between a famous couple like Jay Z and Beyoncé with the “State of the Sustainable Development Goals” project?

All these questions were posed to six communications officers from six different Southern Voice partners during an interactive communications workshop in Bangkok-Thailand.

Thanks to the Think Tank Initiative, Southern Voice was able to get together in one place the people in charge of communicating the flagship project “State of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Participants came from: Peru, Bolivia, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

During one day, they had the opportunity to learn new tools or improve skills. The sessions were on: how to enhance a presentation, creating a storyboard for videos of the project, training for potential podcasts and discussing how to write powerful blog posts.

In the first session the participants were asked to present their peers rather than themselves. In a tandem exercise they learned that communication is not just about speaking, but also in large part about listening. Additionally, as homework, they had been asked to prepare a presentation about the preliminary findings of their respective research teams in 2 minutes. The challenge: to use only images, no text. As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”. All participants passed the test with flying colours and later reported having enjoyed the experience.

For session two, the communicators were divided in teams. Their task was to brainstorm about possible images for videos on three cross-cutting themes of the project:

  • leave no one behind
  • synergies and trade-offs
  • global systemic concerns

Not an easy task. All three topics are complex and abstract. But in the timeframe provided, they delivered a good first draft, creating the basis of the three videos. Stay tuned for more on that soon.

During session three, we talked about podcasts. What are they? How can they be used for research communication? How to make them? etc. As a small exercise, the participants interviewed each other. It gave them the chance to practice interview techniques, reflect about the importance of audio quality and, most importantly, get to know each other better and have fun learning about an additional communications tool. The results were great. I share one of them here:

Podcast interview exercise between Agnes Medinacelli of ARU Foundation – Bolivia and Annapoorna Ravichander of PAC – India.

And then, the teddy bear came in. During session four, we talked about the body of a text and how it should always have a head, a body and “legs” (a conclusion). In the last months, Southern Voice has significantly increased its blog production and secured re-publications with important outlets like and In order to keep this up and deliver a quality product, it is always good to review the do’s & don’ts of a text structure. We also talked about tricks that make a text flow both for the author and the audience.

In the end, time was short. For the Southern Voice team, and in particular for me as Head of Communications, it has been a delight and honour to have the chance to meet these six professionals and work with them. All of them bring different levels of expertise in the field, but the same large amount of enthusiasm and motivation to make the project a success. It is always good to move away from virtual conversations to real life discussions. Spending time in person has definitely strengthened the team spirit. We are looking forward to the next encounter.

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