Don't be afraid - try!

June 4, 2024 by Ivana Zlatanović

Or how Digital Communication for Public Officials (Vol 1 and 2) has helped me to step out of my comfort zone

In 2023, the CEF organized the online course “Digital Communication for Public Officials,” which acquainted us with new Internet tools that facilitate online communication. Despite my increased online communication in recent years, the emergence of this “new normality” in business, until this training, I had not realized how many new tools exist, how much they can help us improve online communication, and how relatively simple and useful they are. Padlet, Miro, Mentimeter – we had the opportunity to learn about various Internet tools, some even leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) principles.

A year later, it's kind of funny to reflect on how much I didn't know back then. Moreover, how quickly everything changes and develops.

During and after the course, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of information and new knowledge. From AI to new perspectives, from quizzes that can be created without programming knowledge to questionnaires and virtual shared boards – the array of tools was extensive. Although it took me a while to process all these novel tools, I, almost immediately started to use some of them. I wrote about my positive experience here, leaving me with no dilemma about whether to apply for further training.

For last year's course, Vol 1, I can say that it represented the beginning of stepping out of my comfort zone. Using new Internet tools independently and organizing a lecture where participants used these tools turned out great. Although it seems easy, anyone who has had experience in organizing and implementing online training knows that these trainings are specific for both lecturers and participants and that many things don’t go as planned. However, with a little bit of practice and accepting the fact that mistakes will happen, it’s definitely worth to start using new tools.

This year’s course, Vol 2, felt like a blend of the new and the familiar. Armed with basic knowledge of tools like Miro, Mentimeter, Padlet, and some understanding of Artificial Intelligence through Canva, I was more experienced, and it was easier to absorb additional information and navigate through these tools. Although created for both beginners and more advanced (last year's) participants, the course enabled me not only to refresh my understanding of the material but also to improve my knowledge. Moreover, it offered a unique chance for those who participated in Vol 1 to gain a new experience by co-facilitating the course together with the CEF team.

This training course provided a novel experience as well as many new things and opportunities. With the support of Ana, David and their colleagues from the CEF, I had the opportunity to discover the small tricks of leading an online team, learning how to prepare for sessions, navigate small team dynamics, and encouraging participants. Although I had experience in organizing and leading online meetings, they typically involved small/mini teams, and familiar topics (and people).

This course was something else: the tools that I occasionally use made the activities easier and I was not on an unfamiliar ground, but the experience of co-facilitation pushed me out of my comfort zone, presenting a fresh challenge, followed by the excitement of acquiring new knowledge.

Practice, practice, practice and not being afraid – these are the most important lessons of this course. Working with Internet tools is a process of learning through trial and error. Often, trainees don't want to make mistakes or be seen making them, although this is both normal and expected in the learning process. We’re here to train, practice, and have fun. Being a (co)facilitator requires great concentration and paying attention to many things at the same time. It requires understanding, patience, and accepting that you don't know everything, you are not always right, and that you too make mistakes. Technical problems are also a constant reality. Co-facilitation means being ready for anything all the time.


As the course was conducted in a language that wasn’t native to all participants, sometimes it wasn’t immediately understood what the participant wanted to say, and sometimes the topic was too abstract. However, thanks to small and compact groups, reaching an agreement often only required a few exchanges. And if sometimes an exercise was not finished, there was always the next practice session as well as additional support from the CEF team.

Being both a trainer and a trainee (teacher and student) at the same time isn’t easy but this course was a wonderful experience, giving me a boost and additional encouragement for my future work.

The Internet tools that we used the most during the course have become part of my daily routine: • Padlet – ideal for joint work within the same document • Miro – a virtual wall great for brainstorming • Mentimeter – a tool that allows asking questions and collecting feedback during the presentation, and of course • Canva – a tool that can help us realize that we can all be creative …

The course not only proved that it is possible to learn online, but also showed that online meetings can be just as successful as face-to-face meetings, with Internet tools serving as excellent tools for team bonding.

Needless to say, I am eagerly waiting for Vol 3.