Chapter 4


Theoretical Introduction – Theory Behind the Scenarios

The chapter includes workshop scenarios that you, the youth worker, could use to support young people to develop specific communication skills, such as:

  1. Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts;
  2. Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions;
  3. Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade).

The selected communication skills follow the P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning (Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2002), which includes the following competence areas:

  • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts;
  • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions;
  • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade);
  • Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact;
  • Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multi-lingual).

The three communication skills included in the workshop scenarios from this chapter were selected based also on the learning objectives of other workshop scenarios from this toolkit. Thus, these skills are not covered or are much less covered in other sections, while the others are already included in chapters like Media Literacy and Information Literacy. A final introductory note: as Skill IT for Youth Training Toolkit also aims to support the development of the digital skills of young people, each scenario includes a component supporting the achievement of this goal.

The following sections will give you the basic knowledge you will need for delivering the workshops from this chapter. Do not expect for theory about communication skills, but about specific principles, methods, processes that are used to support young people to acquire the communication skills.

The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek

The aim of the first workshop scenario from this chapter is to support young people to articulate thoughts
and ideas more effectively. We chose to introduce The Golden Circle method to young people because it is
very practical, relevant, easy to understand, and Simon Sinek is very charismatic in presenting the way in
which great leaders, like Martin Luther King, and awesome brands, choose to communicate their missions,
their dreams, their vision for the future. You could watch the full TEDx speech of Simon Sinek here: https://

The Circle you have to use to explain the theory to the young people is this one:

Simon Sinek says that usually we tend to present things we care about, ideas, thoughts, or commercials, from outside to inside – from what we do to why we do it. This is actually the best case scenario, in which we remember to talk about the “why”, our beliefs, our values, the bases of our decisions, etc. But then, what he observed in his research is that influential people, great leaders start to communicate their ideas from inside circle to the outside circle: from “why” they are doing things to “what” they are proposing for the dreams/ideas to happen. Simon Sinek says that these circles match perfectly the way in which our brain is structured. The “what” circle is our “neocortex” – where rational thinking and language, and figures and abstract things are processed and understood. The “how” and “why” circles represent the limbic part of the brain, which is responsible for feelings, behaviour and decision-making. So, if we start from the “why”, we will get directly to the people feelings and their ability to make decisions.
More curious about the theory? You can also check Simon Sinek’s book dedicated to the Golden Circle: Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, 2011.

Basics on empathizing

Design thinking is not only a buzzword of our time, but it is also a very much used problem-solving process. Design thinking is an extreme human-oriented process that helps us to unblock ourselves from the self-imposed constraints we work within, to challenge our assumptions, to redefine problems, and to identify alternative strategies, which might not be instantly obvious. It is focused to solve problems, but what makes this process more special than other problem-solving processes is the focus on the “users”, on the one for whom you want to re-design their experiences, such as online shopping experience, spending free time in nature, getting psychological support, etc. … any experience you could imagine. 🙂

The process includes five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test. If you did not do it so far, then you can go back to Chapter 3 on Creativity and Innovation and read more about these steps. Here, we will focus on empathize – because we consider that there is no more efficient way to support young people to learn about the importance of listening to others, collect information and decipher meaning behind what people are saying, doing, thinking or feeling.

The main objective of the empathizing step is to discover the need, the problem of the users, to really understand the other one. And the process says that is not enough to ask people what is your need?. Sometimes, they really do not know, or they cannot express it in the best way. So, there are certain methods and steps used for empathizing, from which we selected three of them to be used in the workshop scenario focusing on this competence area:

  • Search for insights in people’s stories about the experience you want to better understand and maybe re-design it;
  • Observe people, go where they live, work or play – observe what they do or do not do, what they say or do not say;
  • Finally, understand people at the following three levels: functional (try out what the people regularly experience), cognitive (understand what makes sense to the people) and emotional (understand what people feel).

Usually, for empathizing, for “listening” to the people, the following methods are used: observation, video ethnography, interviews, group discussions, visual thinking (example: asking people to draw what the experience means to them or to perform a short play on what the experience means to them), storytelling – asking people to tell stories about their experiences (the most successful stories, the worst stories, etc.).

Interested to read more about design thinking process and the five steps it includes? Check the key resources we included in the Introduction to Design Thinking from Chapter 3 Creativity and Innovation. 

Communicating with purpose

As we also hope to ignite the young people’s sense of initiative, we chose that the workshop scenario, which is focused on supporting the participants to learn how to use communication for a range of purposes, to be more civic-oriented. The scenario helps the young people to acquire this skill, while also learning some things about social marketing and advocacy campaigns, and a planning tool for organizing these campaigns. Here is what you need to know about social marketing, advocacy campaigns and Story Canvas (developed by Digital Storytellers).

First, social marketing is a process that facilitates the “selling” of a socially-desired behaviour. So, if we want people to recycle more, we make a marketing strategy, and eventually a marketing campaign, to “sell” them this idea. Advocacy campaigns are campaigns that raise public awareness, motivate people to care or to act on relevant public, social, civic, political, economic issues. So, any social marketing or advocacy campaign will serve at least one of the following goals:

  • To educate specific audience about the issue;
  • To motivate specific audience to care about the issue;
  • To mobilize specific audience to act upon the issue in a certain direction.

Our assumption is that if the young people learn about these three purposes and try out to build social messages following clear goals, they would also learn and practice how to communicate with purpose. In order to plan their messages, respectively their campaigns, we propose to also teach them about the Story Canvas developed by Digital Storytellers, available at the following link:

We summarized for you the main steps (and the order of the steps) and questions you need to use in order to support young people to fill in the canvas for their communication campaign, based on the communication goal they have – to educate, motivate, mobilize or move to action:

PURPOSE: Why this story / these stories need to be told? Why people should care about it?
3. Audience
Primary – take action
Secondary – hear your story
  • Profile
  • React (emotions)
  • Impact
    5. Key messages
    (3 things you want your audience to remember about the problem & solution; and why now?)
    6. Call to action
    (what do you want your audience to do?)
    Ex.: share the message to others, challenge themselves, sign a petition, protest, etc.
    Type of story (explainer, vision, personal story, etc.)
    4. People & Places
    (who & where)
    People – relevant for you and the audience; how do you reach them
    Places – relevant for people, for the story, for the “challenge” people had to take
    7. Style & Tone(Look & Feel);
    (connected to the emotions / reaction you want to get)
    Colors, music, language, time of day, font, pace of story, etc.
    8. Campaign
    (how will you get your story out there? Develop it before the story)
    • Delivery channels (online / offline)
    • Promotion channels
    • Supporters
    • Partners/partnerships
    • Most important moments
    1. Outcomes (raising awareness, shifts in perceptions, policy change, etc.)2. Indicators (SMART)

    There are many resources online about advocacy campaigns or social marketing campaigns, from big organizations, such as UNICEF, CARE International, Greenpeace, Caritas Europe, etc. Or check the resources of Mobilisation Lab’s resources (MobLab was developed inside Greenpeace based on their long and sound experience on advocating and mobilizing people). Select one which you think fits better your interest and curiosity to read more about the process. Also, check the Digital Storytellers website to learn more about the Story Canvas.