“You cannot speak that which you do not know. You cannot share that which you do not have. And you cannot give that which you do not possess. To give it and to share it and for it to be effective, you first need to have it. Good communication starts with good preparation” Jim Rohn.
The above quote by Jim Rohn, the recipient of the 1985 National Speakers Association Award for excellence in speaking, signposts the importance of communications in our daily organizational and individual operations. Effective communication starts with preparation, which enables you, not only deliver the message but ensure that you get feedback through effective monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the intended impact is achieved.
Organizational effectiveness is largely dependent on effective communications, so it is imperative that all communication officers and minders understand the rudiment of communication to enable them deliver on the organizational goals and aspirations.
In a bid to bridge this communication gap, MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with a Consortium comprising Africa Practice and International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) sought to train communication officers drawn from strategic Non-Governmental Organisations and Government parastatals to increase their organizational effectiveness through effective communications.
The training on strategic communications which is the third in the series exposed participants to the critical elements of planning, strategy, key messaging and social media as well as understanding the rudiment of monitoring and evaluation as key in the communication value chain irrespective of the medium.
While delivering a keynote speech titled “Communication as a strategic tool in programming for NGOs”, at the wrap up dinner, a veteran broadcaster Mrs. Eugenia Abu emphasized the importance of communications. In her words, “I do know also as a broadcaster and communication expert for nearly forty years that communication is a sine qua non for any organisation that intends not only to succeed but one that intends to be well received in the community they work in while spreading the gospel of their goals and objectives”.
In her presentation, she cited Yetunde Ajibade who posited, “There can be no development without a careful consideration of the issue of language and communication at both the macro and micro levels of operation.”
She further lamented that there is a knowledge gap and in this lies the opportunity. “This way of doing things which often obliterates communication or considers it near irrelevant is the undoing of many organisations that do not see communication as the artery that keeps all information flowing through to enable external stakeholders and internal mechanisms work better more smoothly and be on the same page”, Mrs. Abu noted.
She maintained, “Communication as a strategic tool for programming is an enhancer, it is unflappable, it is desired and must never be taken for granted”.
She further explained that programming delivers your values, fundraising, your goals and objectives, your reach outs, budget management, field work issues, but communication places it on a top burner, for spread, for consolidation, for knowledge sharing among your peers, your collaborators and your staff.
She posited that the importance of communication lies in pushing out your messaging and ensuring that the right audience is receiving it. In her words, “communication matters, which entail strategies and plans within your organisation must never be random or accidental”.
Mrs Eugenia Abu however commended the Foundation for its far-reaching interventions in building the capacity of Nigerians and supporting partners across board. “I congratulate the MacArthur Foundation not only for the far reaching work it has been doing in the area of democracy, good governance and accountability all over the world but specifically its far reaching interventions in Nigeria”, she stated.
Earlier, National Director Mac Arthur Foundation, Mr. Kole Shetima explained that the Foundation is interested in the “vitality, health and sustainability of the organization which we support. We pay attention to how we communicate and what we communicate. So it is important our partners know that”.
Mr. Shettima advised the Chief Executive Officers present that, “you are chief communication officers of the organization; you are the face of the organization. It is imperative that you understand what you communicate and relate with the communication officers to ensure that your organization’s communications is effective and impactful”.
In response to Mr. Kole Shettima’s advice, the Chief Executive Officers of over thirty organisations who participated in the training gave their commitment and resolved to use the communications tools and approaches learnt during the training for effective operations of their organisations.
Also speaking at the Dinner to put a wrap on the training, Mr. Waziri Adio, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) commended MacArthur Foundation for the support in building the capacity of officers to make sure that there do their work well to ensure that the health and vitality of the organization is sustained and upheld.
The NEITI Chief noted that communication is essential to government, civil society and organizations and appealed to other Chief Executives present to embrace communication, as it is the life wire of every organization. “You are the CEO, you must put your money where your mouth is”, Mr. Adio advised.
Mr. Adio further urged Mac Arthur Foundation to extend the training to Chief Executives of Organizations to enable them function and deliver on their assignments in their capacity as leaders of their organization.
The participants drawn from various Non-governmental Organisations and NEITI (the only government agency represented) commended the MacArthur Foundation for the training and pledged to use what they have learnt in their various assignments.
The MacArthur Foundation has been giving grants in Nigeria since 1989. The Foundation has supported work in the fields of higher education, population and reproductive health, human rights and international justice.
A Group Photograph of Chief Executive Officers present during the dinner organized by MacArthur Foundation at the end of the workshop on strategic communications held recently in Abuja.