Telling Your Story

As your project develops, you will want to let your community know what you are doing and continue to build their engagement and support, as well as create opportunities for youth to have a stronger voice. Here are several strategies and resources to help you succeed.

Convening a Meeting of Stakeholders or the General Public

A meeting, town hall discussion, or other gathering is a highly recommended way to bring youth voice and adult stakeholders together to learn from each other and share perspectives. When young people in a community call a meeting, people often take notice because it doesn’t happen as often as it should.

As you think about creating an event, consider who can play these roles (from the 4-H Engaging Youth, Serving Communities project)

  • Facilitator: Guides the group & the process (see below for some tips on this critical role)
    • Is a neutral, positive process servant of the group
    • Supports everyone to do their best thinking
    • Encourages full and equal participation from every group member
    • Does not judge ideas or individuals
  • Recorder: Captures key points in “group memory”
    • Is another neutral, non-defensive process servant of the group
    • Honors the words of the speaker
    • Records enough so that ideas can be understood later
    • Only contributes ideas of their own when requested from group
  • Group Member: Focuses on meeting content (you need to recruit both youth and adults to serve in this role)
    • Actively engaged as a meeting participant
    • Shares comments, concerns & ideas
    • Listens to & considers ideas of others
    • Ensures that all ideas are accurately recorded in group memory
    • Keeps the group on task during discussion
  • Leader: Accountable for final decisions & results (this should be a member of your leadership team, and it could be an adult or a youth or a youth/adult pair)
    • Actively participates as a full group member in meeting
    • Plans & convenes meeting working with group members and process team
    • Gives the group direction and assists in it setting goals and making plans
    • Ensures that tasks & responsibilities are accomplished
    • Gives the group credit, encouragement, & support
    • Represents the group at other meetings

National 4-H Council has created the 4-H Tech Changemakers event planning guide to help you engage the media in your event.

Facilitating Public Discussions

If you are asked to facilitate a meeting, your job is to help the group have a successful discussion. When youth facilitate, adults and other youth often take notice and respect them as leaders.

  • A facilitator enables groups to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy.
  • A facilitator does not take sides, but advocates for a fair, open, and inclusive process.
  • A facilitator is a learning guide to assist a group in thinking deeply about its beliefs and its processes.

Some ideas for managing group discussions, dealing with silences, and other facilitation challenges are Tips for Facilitators

Tips for Facilitating Effective Discussion, offered by the American Heart Association, focuses on the facilitation of public discussions. It focuses on what makes a successful facilitator and ways to connect with your audience

Engaging Elected Officials

Elected Officials – one-on-one meetings

  • Meeting Your Representatives from the National Youth Rights Association talks about what to prepare when going to meet with an elected official and what to do during that meeting
  • Start here, it provides basic knowledge in the art of meeting with elected officials

Elected Officials – public meeting

  • This short article gives a glimpse into what a typical school board meeting looks like. It’s important to understand what a meeting looks like in order to effectively speak during one.

General Tips (from a school board member) about talking in front of a school board:

  • Have a handout/pamphlet that you can distribute to all school board members with the key takeaways from your presentation/calls to action (what you want them to help you with moving forward)
  • Have a visual presentation while you are talking
  • Leave time after your presentation to answer questions
    • Practice presenting in front of people and having them ask you questions beforehand
    • If you don’t know the answer, it’s absolutely okay to say “I don’t know the answer, but let me figure it out and get back to you.”
  • Make eye contact with the people that you are talking to
  • Be confident and have fun!

Data Visualization Resources

You’ve gathered information via surveys, interviews, and other action research in your communities. Now it is time to communicate what you have learned to others. Here are some resources to help you communicate clearly and capture your audience’s attention.

Using Graphics to Report Evaluation Results This resource comes right from Extension and explains how to evaluate your survey results. We recommend that you read pages 1-10. Pay special attention to pages 8-10 as it walks you through how to make simple bar, pie, and line graphs.

Beam Chartmaker This is our favorite for turning the results of your survey into viewable graphs. They have 4 different graph options (pie, line, bar, column) and different coloring options. The input and creation of the graphs is the simplest we could find and the presentation is professional.

AmCharts Live Editor For those looking for a bit more advanced data presentation, this resources gives graph templates for you to edit. The options for this resources exceed that of Beam’s, but beware, this is a pretty complex editor that will take time to perfect.

Canva Graphs  NOTE: THIS RESOURCE IS NOT FREE. Why did we choose to include Canva if you have to pay for it? Because their graphs are the industry standard as far as data presentation goes. You can create a free Canva account and have access to millions of graphing templates, which cost $1 each to edit. It’s worth looking into if you want to create a single handout with all of your survey results on it.

Microsoft Excel This is a resource that you all should have access to. It’s a great, easy visualizing tool to illustrate your data into graphs. This short video tutorial walks you through the basic steps needed to take to make a graph in Excel