At South by Southwest, representation from the sexual violence field was few and far between; however, I did get to meet with Sally Laskey, associate director, from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. She was at the conference to learn about why technology is an important part of the movement to end sexual violence. She and I talked about what our experience has been at the conference, and we made the observation that one of the messages across many of the sessions was the way technology can be used as a tool for listening to your audience. For CALCASA, this could mean how it uses the Website — and the technologies that make the blog possible — and social media tools to better serve members, advocates and staff.
One of the sessions I attended was “Managing Your Content Management System,” which basically provided advice about how to better handle the back end of Websites. The best tip that I took away from this was that successful Web sites — both the front end and the back end — cannot be executed by a designer alone. The editorial team (CALCASA staff) and Website audience (members, advocates, etc.) need to provide feedback, suggestions and usability advice to the designer(s). And on the other side of this sword, designers have to put on their listening ears in order to create the best product possible for the editorial team and users.
Following the same theme of listening to your audience was a session about “Conducting Great Interviews.” As CALCASA increases the amount of audio and video material it publishes on the Web, interview skills become increasingly important. The interviews we conduct must create value for those who watch it. Aside from the standard advice — be prepared, be prompt, be face-to-face — one way to start a successful interview is to really understand who you’re interviewing — and this comes back to listening. What does he/she represent? How is he/she feeling behind the camera and/or recorder? Are your questions going to invoke an interesting response? And after the interviewee is talking, truly be present. It’s so easy — and I know I’ve done this — to read off a list of questions and completely forget to listen to what the interviewee is talking about because you’re more concerned about your next question. I challenge myself and the rest of CALCASA’s staff to seriously try being present as we conduct interviews with members, experts, advocates and the public. I would be willing to bet that our audience is going to be able to tell these interviews apart.
We are listening. Technology, tools, books and education (the list could go on) is only part of what’s needed in the movement to end sexual violence; we all need to be communicating — sharing what’s working and what’s not. So leave us your comments. Give us your feedback.