Yesterday I visited the Belconnen Arts Center to see the latest exhibition. Instead of an arts talk there was Mr Andrew Cappie-Wood, head of the ACT Public service, discussing reforms to the structure of Canberra's government. The changes streamline the structure of government to make it more like a city council delivering services, rather than a state government.
While the content of what Mr. Cappie-Wood was saying made sense, the way the information was being delivered could be improved. He explained that the Chief Minister had used the web to deliver a clear whole of government policy direction. This is an approach which Mr. Cappie-Wood could do well to emulate. Just standing up talking in front of a small group of people, on a Saturday afternoon, with no visual aids is not the most effective way to communicate a message to citizens (several in the audience appeared to be asleep).
After the talk I searched the ACT Government web site, but was not able to find a copy of Mr. Cappie-Wood's presentation on-line.
I suggest the ACT Chief Minister issue a direction to the ACT Public service requiring at least the text of public presentations to be placed on the ACT Government's web site, the same day the presentation is made. It would be useful if audio and visuals were also provided. But it should be feasible to have at least the text provided the same day.
It would also be useful for the ACT's senior public servants and any others required to give presentation, to undertake a training in modern communication skills. This would include the use of visual aids and the principles of the use of social networking and podcasts.
Public presentations which consist of someone just standing and talking are a waste of public money as they do not communicate effectively. This also discriminates against the citizens who cannot attend that event and those who can't hear. This practice should be eliminated from the ACT Government and all governments.
The federal government has numerous good examples of how to communicate to the public on-line and also how to make this a two way conversation. One example is the AGIMO Blog. There are also some details in my course "Electronic Document and Records Management".
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