RARE - Summit of the cohorts

Public speaking and pitching an organisation's core

Bringing 45 members of the first and second RARE cohorts together in Tallinn to meet each other in person was essential to setting the fundamentals of forging lasting connections among human rights defenders working in 17 EU member states in diverse environments and on a wide range of human rights issues. Furthermore, the summit was an opportunity to develop ideas about RARE’s joint advocacy initiative to call for better protection of human rights defenders and civic space in the EU.

“I loved the camp, the structure it followed, the expertise shared, the learning received, and the exchanges with people from both cohorts.”

Taking part in an intense skills-building workshop facilitated by Ági Gergely from ASCON Hungary and Dr Bernhard Knoll-Tudor of the Hertie School, RARE participants honed their skills to write, construct and deliver persuasive public speeches that will help raise awareness about and persuade their audiences to take action for their cause. 

Bernhard Knoll-Tudor, Hertie’s Director of Executive Education in Tallinn in November 2022 (credit: Polina Georgescu)

Effective advocacy and persuading audiences

Given the increasingly hostile environment for key human rights issues and civil society groups in many EU member states, being authentic, clear and persuasive public speakers is becoming even more important for effective human rights advocacy.

With the goal of equipping participants to leave a long-lasting impression and memorable messages, Bernhard Knoll-Tudor presented ten precepts for writing effective speeches, as well as best and worst practice examples. During practice sessions, RARE participants were able to implement and practice the tools offered for turning complex discourse into compelling rhetoric, focusing on addressing various policy audiences about the need to protect civic space in the EU, using RARE’s advocacy brief. “Public speaking is a skill, not a gift. Preparation is the key”, said Knoll-Tudor. Gathering direct feedback from their peers and facilitators allowed for a lively exchange and helped participants develop imagery that will reach audiences and help cause the desired effect of the communication.

“This was an excellent camp. I met so many amazing people and I got to practice speech delivery and receive constructive feedback. I have learnt new skills that I can use in practice. The camp was very well organised and the atmosphere was excellent.”

Learning and connecting through shared challenges

The Tallinn camp also provided participants with an insight into the work of local Estonian NGOs. Bringing an eventful first day to an end, Mall Hellam, director of the Open Estonia Foundation, Uljana Ponomarjova, lawyer of the Estonian Human Rights Centre and Urmo Kübar, CEO of Praxis Think Tank, shared their experiences about the achievements and challenges of human rights defenders and civil society organization in Estonia. The networking chat also identified common grounds and ideas for possible future collaboration on projects promoting human rights.

Meeting representatives of Estonian civil society (credit: Polina Georgescu)
Mall Hellam, director of Open Estonia Foundation (credit: Polina Georgescu)

Powerful body language for powerful messages

“The presentations were very good. I already knew about body breathing, power poses and progressive relaxation but it was good to repeat. Accessing reading materials prior to the camp allowed us to immerse ourselves deeper in the topic.”

Acknowledging the importance of powerful body language when delivering speeches, Ági Gergely helped participants to build confidence through body consciousness and gave them practical tools to reflect and improve their public speaking skills.

Helping to understand how to evaluate the effectiveness of their talking points, the camp concluded with further practical feedback sessions and guidance on how to incorporate the message-delivery techniques learned and ensure that the voice of a diverse civil society is heard.