November 2013, London, United Kingdom. Communication is a core aspect of diplomacy and communicating efficiently with the media is an essential skill for any diplomat representing his or her country in international fora. UNITAR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia jointly organized a workshop on “Communication, Active Listening, Public Speaking and Working with the Media” for a group of diplomats from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to strengthen their skills in these areas.

The five-day workshop that took place in London included sessions on various aspects of communication and media relations. During the first two days of the workshop Jérôme L’host, senior consultant and UN-certified coach, strengthened participants’ knowledge of non-verbal communication, public speaking, persuasive communication and gave them advice on how to effectively prepare for presentations. Participants immediately had the opportunity to put the knowledge they acquired to the test through different exercises. In addition to group exercises, each participant had an individual coaching session with the trainer during which they practised their public speaking skills. Recording their speeches on video gave participants the chance to analyse their strengths and weaknesses and helped understand the feedback of the trainer.

Susan Manuel, a former journalist with a long career in international communications, amongst others at United Nations Headquarters in New York, increased participants’ understanding of media relations, public diplomacy, how to handle interviews and different media platforms during the following two days. Sharing experiences from her own career with the participants provided interesting starting points for discussion. An individual coaching session during which participants practiced an interview increased their confidence when dealing with the media.

On the last day of the workshop a visit and guided tour of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was organized. This heightened participants’ awareness of the importance of media relations and gave them the opportunity to see how news is being produced.

All participants thanked UNITAR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the organization of the workshop and expressed that they felt much more confident when dealing with the media and communicating in public.