Get your message across

Effective communication

An effective communication message has three components:
(1) owning feelings,
(2) sending feelings and
(3) describing behaviour.

Ownership of feelings focuses on “who owns the problem.” The sender of a message needs to accept responsibility for his or her own feelings. Messages that own the sender’s feelings usually begin with or contain the word “I.” Sometimes communicating feelings is viewed as a weakness. But the value of sending feelings is communicating honesty and openness by focusing on the problem and not evaluating the person.

Describing behaviour concentrates on what one person sees, hears, and feels about another person’s behaviour as it affects the observer’s feelings and their behaviour. The focus is on specific situations that relate to specific times and places.

a case study for advocacy and employment
a case study for advocacy and a local issue

Read more on effective communication for advocacy

Introducing Contextual Analysis

Step 1

Activity: media has the important role of informing the citizens in modern societies, as well as in shaping public opinions. It is crucial that young people, when advocating for their ideas or projects, know how to communicate with journalists as well as general public and get their message across.

During this part of the training participants will learn how to present their message(s) in the most interesting way by introducing them to the rules of effective public communication. They will also learn how to analyse messages and public appearance of others.

In order to do this responsibly participants should also know how to avoid bias and contribute to building positive social structures that combat exclusion; as well as in countering discrimination, hate speech and racism (ethics in communication/media). These skills and knowledge are important for the development of young people’s active participation in the public sphere and decision-making processes.

Time: 50 minutes.

Materials: flip-chart, laptop/tablet, projector, camera/smartphone,
Get your message across – presentation.

Links to the visualization tools:
YouthMetre e-tools
Story Mapping

Presentation on Getting Your Message Across

Young Influencers training in Brussels

Step 2

1) 10 minutes – Short introduction into media/public communication
2) 10 minutes – Contextual analysis – practical group exercise (

The trainer should choose two presidential campaign commercials, ideally of opponents.

The participants led by trainer will conduct a contextual analysis and answer following questions:
What is the key message?
What seems to be the candidate’s intention?
What is the occasion for the commercial? What does it respond to? Is the commercial intended to be some sort of call to – or for – action?
Can any non-textual circumstances be identified that affected the creation and reception of the text?
Does it relate to some events? Are there any historical / cultural connotations?

Step 3

3) 30 minutes – Speaking in front of camera – shooting videos with a camera or smartphones
Up to 4 participants – ideally volunteers – will be assigned to or will choose certain roles: a young person, a representative of a local or international youth NGO, a young politician presenting their ideas and advocating for them.

1. in 10 minutes participants should summarise the key points of their idea and prepare a short speech highlighting key messages and addressing the audience – young people, media, politicians and officers, general public. During this time, others can continue to discuss the contextual analysis.
2. they have 1,5 minutes to talk in front of the camera to convince their audience to join and / or support their idea.
3. after everyone had recorded their ideas, they show the videos on screen to everybody. All participants will share their impressions of the speeches, for example saying which parts of the speech or strategies used were more convincing and which were not.

Debriefing: ask questions such as
a) How the participants worked together
b) Was the task difficult?
c) If yes how they overcome difficulties
d) what did they learn from this activity?

Optional Activity – The elevator pitch

(Not included in the Training Plan)

Activity: the aim of this activity is to agree a short, clear and compelling description of the advocacy campaign and to develop communication skills.

Time: 45 min. participants prepare and practice a 60 second and a 20 second pitch of their key message.

Materials: Flipchart and pen.

− Tell the group to imagine the scenario… “You step into an elevator and find yourself with someone who could help you with your advocacy goals. The person presses the sixtieth floor button, and you know you now have only 60 seconds to get their interest and engagement. What would you say?”
− Explain that this short, 60 second description is often called an ‘elevator pitch’, and that it is important to be able to communicate such a pitch effectively to different audiences, even when unprepared.

– Explain that the elevator pitch should include:
• A clear, statement of the issue and why it matters
• How you know – your evidence
• A real example
• What you want, and why it is important

− Ask the group to get together and prepare an elevator pitch. If the group is large you can split them up and they can prepare and deliver this in smaller groups.
− They should have up to ten minutes to prepare the pitch.
− Give each person / group 60 seconds to make the pitch and stop them exactly when their time is up.
− Lead a mini-debrief asking the group to share feedback on what was good and what could be improved with the pitches. Note down the feedback on a flipchart.
− Tell the story again, but this time explain that the person in the elevator presses the button for floor 20, and that you now only have 20 seconds to explain your campaign! Ask them to return to their small groups and work together on a 20 second pitch. Explain that they must decide on the important parts of their 60 second pitch and how to convey this in even less time.
− After five minutes, bring the whole group together and listen to each pitch. Remember to time the pitches at just 20 seconds.

− Discuss as a group the key messages and what makes the pitches the effective.
− End by highlighting that working on key messages takes time. To get them really clear and simple, practice sharing the message with others until you feel really confident.
From: Workshop facilitator guide for the advocacy toolkit.