On Aug 15, AIA 2020 Director Marro and AIA Staff and Senior Advisor Rob Leggat conducted a training session at the 2017 Youth Leadership Class at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon VA. Some 20 young students from various Muslim communities locally and nationally had come for the week long training, and this seminar was designed to provide them a basic introduction to the skills and experiences they could use to become powerful spokespersons for their communities, schools etc after the training.
Our overall theme for the training was “If you fail to communicate, everything else is wasted.” The training goal was to show these up and coming youth leaders the true art form of how to communicate their messages in a way that will ensure the impact and results they desire.
Know your key messages was also a critical aspect of the discussion, and the need to not only have a clear and forceful message ready to be delivered, but to do so in a way that can most effectively achieve the intended and desired goal.
We also stressed a need to be mindful of the specific medium, and adjust your interview skills and style and even response to the medium; TV interviews for example differ greatly from radio or print or even online, and what you say in each should be calibrated to that exact medium.
Since most people are intimidated by the fear of being led into unknown or uncertain territory during the interview, we also focused on Bridging statements, which are simply a way to transition from one topic (based on a reporter’s question) to a subject you want to talk about (your message and how you want it to be heard).
We ended the session with role plays for several of the students to simulate what it would be like to be interviewed for a TV news report. As we pointed out, many local and even national news organizations will often send crews t local mosques any time there is an incident involving Muslims anywhere in the world, and these reporters often seek to interview young Muslims who would appeal to their TV audiences. We therefore hope to help prepare these Youth Leaders for such eventuality when they are back at their own community centers and mosques.