By Trevor Busch
Town council is heading back to the classroom with communications 101 in November in an effort to improve their strategies in dealing with media challenges.
Following discussion at the Oct. 9 regular meeting, council voted unanimously to select Nov. 20 and Nov. 22-23 as dates for communications training, and directed administration to schedule the timing for those dates.
On Sept. 24, council had indicated a desire for longer sessions for their approved communications training. According to administration, Lethbridge College instructors have indicated that with enough notice, they are able to make the training full day sessions. Three sessions would be required (two full days and one half day).
Administration recommended two full days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a third day from 9 a.m. to noon, to encompass the 15 hours required for the training. Council previously approved the funds to be allocated from council’s training budget on May 28.
The training fee per group of 20 participants is $5,485 plus GST.
In the final session, council would be required to utilize the skills and training they have learned to participate in mock scenarios or media scrums.
According to administration, “council has indicated communications is a focus for their new Strategic Plan. This training will allow council to become comfortable in many facets of communicating. Better communications will increase the public’s trust and confidence in their government.”
Key learning outcomes identified in the proposal included identifying common communications problems and how communication style impacts those around you and the community, developing skills to ask questions and communicate accordingly, recognizing what your non-verbal messages are telling others, developing skills in listening actively and empathetically, and determining how to manage incidents and crisis situations.
Other considerations were learning how to deal with situations assertively but with tact, how to think critically and effectively deliver a message, presenting ideas to a group or using social media, and learning how to become a better spokesperson and foster relationships with internal and external stakeholders such as the media.
It was indicated in Lethbridge College’s proposal that the training would be provided by, “qualified instructors who have over two decades of media and communications experience.”