Expert Communication for Stakeholder Engagement
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Effective communication is at the heart of good public policy. It is the foundation for successfully engaging stakeholders to ensure that policies are better informed, realistic, citizen-centred, broadly supported and well implemented. This means that, in the world of public policy, high level communication skills are needed beyond the domain of official ‘Communications’ units. Indeed, to be truly effective, communication must permeate the policy process, and offer more than the familiar practices of ‘public relations’ or doing a better job of ‘explaining the facts’.
In this course, we will introduce core concepts, principles and practices that underpin the art and science of collaborative communication. Using interactive approaches that draw on participants’ own experiences and real-work challenges, we will explore the essential mindsets and skills that promote the ability to engage stakeholders, for example by:
- doing more ‘listening’ and less ‘telling’
- being open to, and respectful of, diverse views and perspectives – especially those that do not agree
- being transparent about the risks of your initiative alongside the benefits
- sharing dilemmas and decision-making; reduce power differentials
This course will cover the fundamentals of effective communication with stakeholders including:
- methods for identifying and understanding stakeholder needs and interests (e.g, stakeholder mapping/analysis tools) and deploying appropriate communication strategies
- personal and practical skills to remain open and respectful to diverse perspectives, especially where disagreement is strong
- the importance of trust and factors that build trust
- genuine two-way communication that appropriately balances listening both at the interpersonal level and at scale (either in face to face consultations - e.g, ‘town hall’ style meetings, or in terms of environmental awareness)
- methods to build social licence for policy reform (including principles and practices of ‘risk communication’ - i.e., precaution advocacy, outrage management, and crisis communication)
- understanding how to use (and not to use) evidence and facts, especially in the face of disagreement
- Overall learning outcomes include: improved personal confidence in communication; skills for genuine listening; a more nuanced understanding of how to respond to a diversity of perspectives.
The course activities will focus heavily on developing personal confidence and skills, as well as providing some practical tools to support quality and effective communication. Because of this, levels of interaction between students and with the presenter will be high, with didactic ‘lecture style’ methods kept to a minimum.