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Best Practices and Lessons from Connecting Conversations

A man and a women with their shadows behind them

Connecting Conversations was an online discussion series centered on exploring timely topics in Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (AYSRH). The series occurred over the course of 21 sessions grouped into themed collections and held across 18 months, from July 2020 to November 2021. Over 1,000 speakers, young people, youth leaders, and those working in the AYSRH field from across the globe convened virtually to share the experiences, resources, and practices that have informed their work.

Knowledge SUCCESS recently completed an evaluation of the series. In it, we describe our ever-evolving experimentation with the Zoom webinar format that has dominated the COVID-19 era. We also explore the success stories and hard-earned lessons, drawing from feedback collected from over a dozen interviews with participants, speakers, and moderators.

One of our primary goals in creating the Connecting Conversations series was sparking meaningful knowledge exchange regarding AYSRH across different countries, organizations, and sectors. Initially, we had only one speaker per session and slides prepared in advance. While this format worked well for the human development aspects of adolescent health, we quickly realized that it worked less well for other topics of AYSRH, so we shifted our approach. Subsequent themes expanded the conversation to include speakers with different perspectives. We also quickly recognized that we needed youth perspectives, so we invited young people as speakers as well. 

The short PowerPoint presentations were replaced by more organic, less scripted opportunities for speakers to reflect on their experiences. Attendees were encouraged to chime in with their own comments; the chatbox became especially active as an open forum for everyone to share their thoughts without cutting speakers off. Most speakers embraced and valued the new flexibility in format.

Our expanded findings are detailed below in Best Practices and Lessons from Connecting Conversations. We hope this is a valuable resource to anyone looking to create open dialogues and expanded communities of practice.

Click the image to read the Connecting Conversations evaluation!

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