Going on a visit to see young people in action? Here’s our top tips for talking about it!

In 2020, we’re challenging organisations, decision makers and young people to get involved in the Power of Youth Challenge: a year-long set of activities that will enable organisations and individuals to champion youth voice, action and leadership across your networks and grow the #iwill movement across the UK.

We want organisations who are already leading the way, and those who are just starting the journey, to visit youth social action projects and see first hand the impact that young people are making in communities across the UK. We would love you to then share the story of your visit, so that you can inspire others.

Not sure where to start? Sign up to get your Challenge guide – full of tips and resources. You can also keep up with Dr Rania Marandos’ “See it” journal, as she visits projects all across the country.

Planning a visit? Keep reading for our top tips on how to share the story!

Writing a blog

1. Include photos

Remember to snap a few photos while you’re there – or to ask the visit organisers in advance if they could share some photos with you. Pictures really bring a story to life and mean that it’s more likely to be engaged with on social media.

Quick note: Make sure you have the necessary consent before taking or sharing photos of children and other vulnerable groups.

2. Tell a story 

Consider these ways of enriching what you’ve got to say:

  • What is the issue that the organisation or project is addressing through youth social action? Tell your reader why their work is so important.
  • Do you have a personal connection to their work?
  • What did you learn? Did anything challenge your expectations or take you out of your comfort zone?
  • What was the best bit? Did you have an unexpected encounter with a rare bird at a conservation group, or get to watch a piece of inspiring theatre?
  • What will you take back to your organisation? Did the visit give you a new perspective or inspire new ideas?
  • How could other organisations learn from this project as well? What advice would you give to your peers and networks?

3. Be clear and concise

When we’re talking within our networks, it is easy to fall into jargon, but this can mean excluding new audiences. Avoid using highly specific organisational language, or acronyms. If you want to use a technical term, consider briefly explaining it.

❌“Alice is an MYP who has been co-producing an anti-violence campaign with the local council and Peace Champions.”

✅“Alice is a Minister for Youth Parliament who has been working closely with the council and ‘Peace Champions’ – young people who have been affected directly by knife crime. Together they are producing a campaign against youth violence.”

It’s best to keep blogs within 300-600 words, long enough to get your point across without your reader losing focus. Breaking a blog into sections can improve readability.

4. Add a human touch

The whole point of a blog is to bring in a new person’s perspective, so that it’s not just an organisation speaking with the same voice all the time. Some ways to talk about your experiences include:

  • Who/what inspired you to do something?
  • What surprised you?
  • What was the funniest moment/ the most moving bit?
  • How did this make you feel?
  • What did this make you want to do next?

If you’re talking about an issue, consider:

  • Why does it matter to you?
  • Why should young people care?
  • Why should organisations work with young people on this?

5. Consider other voices

Why not ask a young person, project leader or beneficiary for a comment on the work they are doing? A quote from a different perspective can give you something to consider and to respond to. You may also want to add any powerful facts or statistics that you feel illustrate the issues that the project is tackling, the impact that the young people are having, or how young people themselves are benefitting.

Filming a vlog

A vlog can be much quicker to make than a blog and they tend share really well across social media. If you are able, consider adding subtitles to your vlog as these make them more accessible and also are more likely to catch social media viewers who scroll with the sound turned off.

  1. Lighting

Try and film somewhere with good light – outdoors or near a window is always best, and avoid dim light or a very strong overhead light. Don’t film with a light behind you, or you will come out in silhouette. 

  1. Framing & aspect ratio

Get your whole head and shoulders into the frame. Try not to cut off the top of your head, or your chin and neck. You can position yourself in the middle of the frame, or just off to one side, but don’t hide in a corner. Always film in landscape (phone turned sideways) unless you’re specifically recording for Instagram Stories.

  1. What to say & how long for

Always introduce yourself. Say what you do, where you’re from and your age. Plot out what you’re going to say before filming so you’re not lost for words, this includes mentioning the right names of people and organisations. Don’t worry if it takes a couple of takes to get out everything you want to say!

The limit for videos on Twitter is 2 min 20 sec, and for Instagram is 1min. Youtube and Facebook don’t have a limit. Two or three videos under 60 seconds can work well if you want to speak for a longer period.

  1. Sound

Go somewhere quiet if you can, and speak slowly and clearly. You could even try using the microphone of your headphones to record the sound – if you can do this discreetly, it won’t be obvious in the image but cuts out background noise.

  1. Background

Try and film in front of a plain background, which won’t distract the eye too much. Outside or into a neutral space is best – rather than inside your busy office or with a view of the less tidy side of your desk. 

Recording an interview

If you enjoy the informality of a vlog, but want to have a longer conversation, or are a little camera shy, then why not record an interview? Smartphones come equipped with fairly high quality recording equipment, just head to a quiet space out of the way of background noise or strong winds! (Not always possible on nature visits).

Once recorded, you can upload a voice recording to a sharing platform such as Soundcloud, and share on your website or link on social media. If you enjoy the experience, you could consider going as far as recording a podcast …

For interview inspiration, check out #iwill’s CEO Dr Rania Marandos speaking to #iwill Ambassador Lanai about her work at Wassup (Women Against Sexual Exploitation & Abuse Speak Up).

Sharing a case study

Were you really inspired by your visit? Consider writing up and sharing a case study of the project or organisation, so that others can get inspired in turn. We would be very happy to share these case studies! For our top tips on crafting a strong case study about the power of youth social action within organisations, read our guidance here.