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‘Development’: A visual story of shifting power

March 23, 2021
Leer esta historia en español. The work of shifting power is fundamentally the work of changing our gaze. People act on how they see, and to change how we see, is to radically change how we act. By not exploring other forms of expressing, looking and creating, we’re limiting ourselves.  The development space is fixated on the written word. We

This is a love story: thinking globally during COVID19

April 1, 2020
Today’s post is a must-read on internationalist communications strategies during the Coronavirus crisis. Kirsty McNeill is Chair of the Campaign to Defend Aid and Development and Richard Darlington is Campaign Director. It was originally published on Global Dashboard. Over the last few years, bringing international NGOs together to make the case for aid and development, we’ve been digging deeply into how people think

Davos is here again, so it’s time for Oxfam’s new report – here’s what it says

January 21, 2019
First of two posts to mark the start of Davos. Tomorrow Max Lawson digs into the links between inequality and public services. How do you follow a series of Killer Facts that have really got people’s attention? Every year the world’s political and economic leaders gather in Davos, and in recent years, Oxfam has done its best to persuade them,

Why we finally need to face up to information fatigue in 2019 (and 3 ways to do it)

January 9, 2019
Guest post by Caroline Cassidy, a freelance communications specialist and associate for ODI and On Think Tanks 2018 was an intense year. On a personal level, I moved countries and became freelance, so that probably has a lot to do with it. But I don’t think it was simply that. Recently, every year seems to be intense. Communications plays a

When to write in DevSpeak; when to use Plain Language? More handy tips.

December 17, 2018
Andrew Johnston of Words for Change felt moved to respond to Friday’s post on the use of plain language in development comms. He argues that writers have to be able to write for multiple audiences simultaneously, which reminds me of Disney films’ amazing ability to combine a simple narrative to entertain the kids with enough irony and knowing references to

Just to be clear: why Devspeak needs to adopt Plain Language

December 14, 2018
Following the recent FP2P discussion on devspeak, Kate Murphy of Translators Without Borders got in touch and said she needed to vent. Be my guest. If the aid sector is to communicate more effectively, we must do more than tame the rampant devspeak that Duncan highlighted in his recent blog. Instead we should focus on presenting a clear and consistent

How can Activists get better at harnessing Narratives for social change?

November 29, 2018
Working in a global organization like Oxfam means spending a lot of time on conference calls, with colleagues scattered across the globe. They can be frustrating – dodgy connections, people fading in and out, speaking too fast, or forgetting to put their phones on mute (especially if they are nipping in to the restroom – yes it happens….). People concerned

11 Tips for Better Blogging

October 24, 2018
I’ve run several blogging workshops in recent weeks, with seasoned campaigners at Global Witness, Oxfam Novib’s youth wing, and academic bloggers at the Institute for Social Studies in The Hague. All three sessions followed a similar format, developed for a Unicef session I ran last year – a half hour intro from me, and then an editing session where we

Aidspeak: some of your best/worst responses to my call for examples

January 3, 2018
I’m on holiday for the first week of 2018, trying to see the Northern Lights in Norway. In the meantime, here are the most-read posts from 2017, in reverse order starting with number 5. Here’s the original if you want to read the comments Well you took a few hours to get started in response to Tuesday’s post, but then the

Aidspeak: some of your best/worst responses to my call for examples

July 28, 2017
Well you took a few hours to get started in response to Tuesday’s post, but then the floodgates opened and an avalanche of bullshit crashed over me via blog comments and tweets (and yes, mixed metaphors were discussed). Cheers guys. Within the aid business, a few patterns appear: Management obfuscation which sheds almost no light on what is actually being

Are top academic and aid institutions getting away with bad writing?

June 6, 2017
Guest post from the ODI’s Caroline Cassidy I almost choked on my porridge last week when I read about the World Bank’s chief economist Paul Romer being sidelined for wanting his team to communicate more clearly. I re-read the article to check I wasn’t missing something, but there it was: Romer had pushed his staff to write more clearly ‘asking

How can a top development thinktank improve its communications?

June 24, 2016
Well it feels like the world just ended, but thought I’d post this anyway. Life goes on and all that. The title to this post was my exam question for a recent discussion with the comms team at ODI. My initial reaction was ‘you’re top of the heap already, relax’, but then I got to thinking about a couple of