Jan 6, 2020

Non-verbal Communication Influences Learning

Marsed Harizi from Albania reflects on his attendance at the CEF learning event “Enabling Finance Officials as Trainers and Learning Facilitators” and shares some of the benefits the event brought him and how it has influenced his practice.

“What is more precious than time? Well, it’s easy… The second most valuable thing in the world is knowledge. You never stop learning at CEF’s events, and that’s why their workshops and trainings are precious as gold.

I was lucky to participate at the CEF’s event “Enabling Finance Officials as Trainers and Learning Facilitators” in two roles: as an open-minded participant that has to learn, and as a fellow independent consultant (from Albania) of the EU-funded FISR project implemented by the CEF.

The morning sessions were business as usual for CEF’s facilitators who once again pushed the boundaries to have our attention and full engagement in their introduction section and presentation of the core of the event (the FISR project). The CEF’s focus on how to present oneself through games and exercises improves not only communication skills but also gives the opportunity to know oneself better. Toward the road of becoming a facilitator, being a likeable character is key to obtain participants’ attention in following your presentation.

As an independent consultant, I was invited to give a short presentation of the current developments in Albania regarding the preparation process of the Economic Reform Program (ERP), which Albania submits each year to the European Commission on its road to join the big EU family. The focus of my presentation was to:

  • summarize the main challenges of structural reforms;
  • outline two good examples of reform measures (applied according to the ERP guideline of the European Commission) and one example that needs improvements; and
  • express a few conclusions that may be the focus to be addressed during the in-country event organized by the CEF.

Those 15 minutes of sitting among participants and then taking the floor, with everybody’s eyes aimed at me, really seemed like an eternity. However, the cozy environment of the workshop and occasional interaction from the lecturers helped me to deliver a satisfying presentation.

In line with this important task, the workshop included a session called “Strong Presentation: Body Language and Techniques” that defined the core of becoming a facilitator. This exercise/ presentation supported our verbal communication with specific know-how and helped us to become better facilitators. We were divided into working groups where we had to present non-verbal communication tools (i.e., body language: arms, legs, posture, eye contact, facial expression) on the stage. The presenters of this exercise were supposed to stand up in front of all the participants and explain through gestures and words what each and every position implies. In the end, this exercise turned to be very funny and it looked like everybody needed that information because it gave us the key rules to attract people’s attention.

During the presentation as an independent consultant, describing our country’s experience with the Costing of Structural Reforms steered constructive debate. The comments from the lecturers pointed out some good ideas on where the focus of the analysis should be oriented and how to back them up with concrete examples. Furthermore, at the end of the presentation, the participants who were actual writers of the reform measures, expressed their focal points on the barriers that they face, which you cannot find in the summary of the reform measures included in the Albanian strategic document (ERP). As a direct impact of my presentation, their comments and requests were very useful to better structure my presentation in the next in-country event and to have a clear idea on how to tackle the structural reform limits that the officials from line ministries are facing.

After a couple of months, when the first CEF event took place in Tirana, Albania, I knew exactly what the participants wanted to hear and what aspect of the ERP guideline to analyze more deeply. I had prepared my presentation having in mind the precious advices and recommendations from the lecturers and other participants. Now, I had a well-structured presentation and I had chosen wisely the most challenging reform measures to be analyzed as useful exercises from the latest submitted ERP document of Albania. This helped to clearly define each component that compounded the costing tables of the ERP document as requested by the European Commission (ERP guideline).

On the other hand, the knowledge obtained from the sessions and exercises on non-verbal communication reminded me to not only speak slowly and clearly but also to have constant eye contact with the participants. It also taught me how important it is to have a better posture during the facilitation activities, so that I would not move too fast around the room. This knowledge has helped me a lot during various projects that I work on.

Personally, I feel that after attending a CEF event, the information I got made me become a better professional with improved analytical skills. And once I had it clear in my mind, I could replicate it in simple words to others.

In terms of organizational gains, being a better facilitator has helped me deliver better trainings, and consequently reach a higher level of satisfaction from the participants which, in turn, has added value to the project itself.”

This learning initiative was delivered as part of the Regional Knowledge Sharing section of the EU funded multi-country project ‘Strengthening line ministries’ capacities to assess fiscal implications of structural reforms’ (FISR project) implemented by the CEF.