When we collaborate with others, we invest in establishing strong, enduring relationships. Humans are social beings, therefore we must take time to listen, understand and appreciate the perceptions, networks and communities people are part of. It is this behaviour that builds connection and trust, and this was the foundation of our 2-day workshop last week.

Being our first workshop on stakeholder engagement and effective communication, we were equal parts excited and nervous about sharing the many principles, frameworks and techniques we work with and stand by, with a group of 12 NRM professionals.

Day One

The workshop took place in the Jerrabomberra Wetlands with some tea and coffee to warm us up on a cold, foggy morning; an acknowledgement to country by Lori Gould; and an icebreaker activity to get all the participants talking to one another and feeling at ease.

Siwan Lovett kicked off the presentations with a focus on starting with ‘why’, which included an activity for participants to uncover their individual ‘why’ by tapping into their emotions. Emotions underpin everyone’s purpose and guide their decisions through connection, so starting with ‘Why’ was essential to the rest of the content we had planned to cover over the two days.

This theme of connection then carried forward onto storytelling where our attendees worked in groups to tell stories that connected their own why to the work they were doing by including personal photos and building a narrative around them.

Lori Gould took the attendees out for a stroll through the wetlands after lunch, giving everyone some time to stretch their legs, get some fresh air and return refreshed and ready for an afternoon of effective communication through digital marketing and social media.

With activities such as persona mapping, which brought to life the attendees online audiences, and content planning, that helped connect stories to the audience journey, our attendees were able to see that less was more with digital content when using certain frameworks to plan around connecting people.

After a tea and coffee break, Siwan Lovett wrapped up the day with a model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change through positive questions, after which those able to attend met at the Bentspoke Brewing Co. for a group dinner.

Day Two

Jelly beans kicked off day two, in an activity that encouraged people to ask and answer questions on gratitude to foster a positive connection.

Once teas and coffees were had, the attendees jumped into a number of interactive sessions designed for group collaboration and individual engagement approaches. Among this was planning an event around a project they were working on and presenting their approach to the rest of the workshop.

Lori Gould shared Dr. Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats which raises the importance of tailoring the engagement approach to the stakeholder, and not the other way around.

After lunch, the group then looked at how often stories need to shared through their digital channels and techniques they could use to help continually re-engage their communities online to create ambassadors with time. With a final Q&A session to ensure all attendees had their challenges addressed, and mind-mapping exercise to help brainstorm and recall concepts and ideas, the workshop came to an end.

Thank you to all our wonderful participants for being the first, and we are excited to be running the workshop again in October. If you are interested in attending, you can register your spot here.