Agile Comms in Practice

29.11.2021

Last week, I facilitated a session as part of our communicating digital community of practice.  

Giles Turnbull was our guest speaker. Giles is the author of ‘The Agile Comms Handbook’; a no-nonsense, straight-talking book about how to clearly and creatively work in the open. 

Working in the open is a relatively new concept for me, having started with the CDPS in September. It’s one of our digital service standards which references that ‘teams should communicate in the open about the decisions they are making and what they are learning’. 

And it’s liberating!  

I’ve summarised three things from Giles’ presentation to illustrate why.  

Write bad first drafts.  

‘Give yourself the freedom to write something terrible and not worry if your teammates and colleagues also write bad first drafts.’   

This is hard as a comms professional, but also liberating – not letting perfect be the enemy of good.   

Reading other people’s bad drafts isn’t about red penning, but the start of a conversation about what you liked/understood, what you didn’t, how you think it can be improved and if it’s on message or not.    

Someone at the session raised the point that there needs to be a culture of psychological safety within the organisation for this to work and it is all our roles to encourage this behaviour. 

Start interfering when someone says ‘I’ll send you my slides”  

We use slides a lot in the CDPS. This tip was a timely reminder as it followed a session I ran with staff earlier in the week. My session focussed on what we need to do to comply with Welsh language and accessibility standards, while also communicating pertinent points in an engaging way.  

It covered tips on font size, use of imagery, quotes and importantly presentation structure. The key thing I wanted staff to take away was; less is more and what’s on your slides should complement what you say and not be one and the same.  

Giles references this site, which I also used as part of my research for the staff session www.doingpresentations.com   

You only need to be a tiny bit creative to stand out from the crowd.  

Being creative is sometimes hard, especially when you’re busy in the detail!  

Making time for expansive thinking is so important and I’m going to make sure I carve this out for the team.  

I’m a member of the Government Communication Service connect programme, where comms professionals are paired up to have a coffee and a chat. Last week I met the lovely Anisha Chandar, social media manager at Defra.   

Her team hold regular content slots where they come together to talk about content that inspired or caught their eye and discuss ways in which they can craft their own communications.  

I’m going to start this with the wider team in the CDPS. 

On standing out from the crowd, Giles embedded himself into his presentation, which was very creative and effective and much more interesting than just looking at his slides! He used an application called https://www.mmhmm.app/  

Did you attend the session? What resonated with you? 

You can register for our Communicating Digital Community of Practice here: https://digitalpublicservices.gov.wales/communicating-digital/  

You can watch the recording of Giles’ presentation on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVLQ9QxvyLU  

Blog post by Edwina O’Hart – Head of Communications and Engagement

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