Recently the Current Global London office hosted its first discussion in its highly anticipated Real People, Real Conversations series – which is exactly what it sounds like. Genuine, open-ended conversations with interesting people representing various organizations, campaigns, communities, and viewpoints. No expectation of a return. Just focusing on what connects us and how we can become better at telling stories that matter and honestly reflect the experiences of the people they are about.
I think that as communicators, what separates the best from the rest is an ability to listen. To reflect. And then to act, meaningfully, on what we have spent time contemplating. Even when what we have heard does not always make for easy listening.
For our inaugural session we welcomed Ebony Riddell Bamber (TW: @ebonyrb) to 135 Bishopsgate. Ebony has had a varied and successful near 20-year career holding decision makers to account – primarily in the international development sector, with time spent in local government along the way. Now Ebony is Head of Global Advocacy at CARE International, where she has a particular interest in advancing the agency and leadership of women and girls.
She spoke to us in a personal capacity, and some key principles to communications stood out for me from the conversation.
First, we must learn to engage with one another where we see and hear the other, rather than trying to focus on telling our own story in their experience. Ebony shared some challenges about insincerity that can often be found in some of her work in terms of representation. As a Black British woman, tokenism and not being recognized or heard are issues she has had to confront. She highlighted the importance of being prepared to take risks about how to communicate, engage and represent people authentically from diverse backgrounds, from all areas of society, in our work if it is to be inclusive.
Another feature of our conversation that struck me was the importance of data analysis. Ebony acknowledged that data has become an increasingly valuable resource during her career (for example, in understanding shifting trends in funding behavior or evaluating the impact of policy changes) but cautions that data must be interpreted within the context that surrounds it. This is something that Current Global is passionate about, so it was great to hear her thoughts. My colleague Vera Glushich has written about this previously.
Whether developing compelling stories by probing datasets or doubling down on our capacity for active listening, the start of our Real People, Real Conversations series reinforces the importance for all of us, as professional communicators as well as in our day-to-day lives, to take time to root out real human-centred perspectives on the issues we are working on before we do anything else.
Written with review and permission from Ebony Riddell Bamber @https://www.linkedin.com/in/ebony-riddell-bamber-3184b2b/
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