You might be one of the many students who have conducted research and learned cool things throughout your studies, but then ask yourself: what can I do with this knowledge and these skills? How do you communicate your findings to a broader public, and how do you engage others in your potential work in conservation?
This was exactly what we were addressing in a workshop on communication on Saturday the 21st of January. A cosy group of FFN Academy members engaged in a writing workshop and an interactive session on communication towards stakeholders in Emma Centrum, Utrecht. The writing part of the workshop was led by science journalism platform De Focus. For the stakeholder part of the workshop, Future For Nature award winner Wietse van der Werf joined us.
In the morning, small groups of members were each joined by a workshop leader of De Focus. With the help of a practical writing guide designed by De Focus and tips from the workshop leader, we started writing our findings into a format that works for a broader public. Our goal was to write about 400 words in roughly 45 minutes – a challenge where we could use some focus! The structure and time limit helped us to get to the core of the message we wanted to convey. An important take-away message: the societal relevance of your topic is important to mention from the start. Even though time was short and nobody was able to write a full article, it seemed like it got everyone into the writing mood. Perhaps it may lead to some journalistic articles published on the website of De Focus in the future!
After a lunch with wraps and a wide variety of wrappable ingredients (brought by all participants), we welcomed Wietse van der Werf for the afternoon part: how to communicate nature conservation among/towards stakeholders?
Wietse set the stage by telling us all about his (many!) experiences at (among others) the Sea Rangers Service: to get different people and organisations (sometimes completely uninterested in nature conservation) to cooperate in the best way possible, they should be approached by using inherently different ways of talking and by adjusting the complexity of the message. Even dressing appropriately can make a difference! Our own Academy members likewise shared their experiences, and together we actually know a lot! After a useful interactive session with Wietse, we split up in groups and were given the challenge to prepare a 30-second elevator pitch about a seagrass conservation programme. Every group had to pitch for a different stakeholder, ranging from the government to fisheries to industries and youth. Differences between our pitches made clear that it is important to tap into the motivation, interests and knowledge of the particular stakeholder. Only then you succeed in getting your message across (and again: how you present yourself (suit or other clothing).
We closed this informative day with some drinks, where we could all reflect on what we learned and also further discussed our own experiences. Because: do not underestimate yourself nor the impact you can make!
by Priya Nair & Janneke Troost