By Sauvé Fellow Rachel MacNeill

One of the most exciting parts of the Jeanne Sauvé Public Leadership Program is joining forces with other Fellows to explore and expand our adjacent interests. On a recent January weekend, Fellow Svjetlana Markovic and I put our heads together to co-develop and deliver an innovative communications and public relations workshop for high-achieving high school girls in Montreal.

Ton Avenir en Main/Seize Your Future (TAM) is a Montreal-based leadership program for young women, primarily high school and CEGEP students. The program trains the next generation of female leaders through workshops and one-on-one mentorship. Over the course of the program, each participant creates, develops and executes a community project. This year, projects include diverse topics such as creating a documentary on homeless LGBT youth, raising funds for Syrian refugee youth, and creating a school mental health awareness week.

Svjetlana and I were invited to design a two-day workshop for TAM participants as they reach the critical external communications phase of their projects. With my background in writing and communications planning, and Svjetlana’s background in public communications and social media, our workshop was designed to touch on all of the aspects of communications and public relations needed in leadership development.

The workshop was divided into three parts: communications planning, branding, and public presentations. The first part of the workshop encouraged participants to explore the different media channels that interest them, such as direct marketing and social media. By reflecting on objectives, audiences, media channels and key messages for their individual projects, participants were able to develop detailed communications-oriented action plans for their project rollout.

The second part of the workshop was about personal and project branding. The girls were keen to develop their own logos and brands for their initiatives, and results were as wide-ranging and exciting as their project ideas.

The final component was all about presenting a powerful and cohesive public face to the world. We ran the girls through three models of public speaking: public presentations, public narratives in the style of Marshall Ganz, and media interviews. Participants really shone in this part of the workshop, showing their intelligence, energy and personality in the filmed public speaking simulations that closed the day.

“I had a great time and learned a lot!” wrote one participant. “Can’t wait to continue working on my project.” Some participants also realized that they were interested in working in communications in the future, and that they felt more prepared to move forward with their TAM projects.

This workshop, hopefully the first of many, was an opportunity for Sauvé Fellows to both capitalize on the knowledge and interests of our peers and to give back to the broader community. It also happened to be a lot of fun! We have no doubt that the TAM participants will deliver innovative projects that reflect their intelligence, potential and social conscience and that they will positively impact their communities, both in Montreal and at large.

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