Colombo Survey Results: What Did GVers Think of the 2017 Summit?

Photo by Jer Clarke GV2017

Photo taken by Jer Clarke at the 2017 Global Voices Summit. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Our 2017 Summit in Colombo brought together 128 members of the GV Community, including our staff and board members. In an effort to understand what this experience was like for everyone — and what we can do better next time, we created a survey after the Summit.

Since then, 88 people (68.75% of Summit attendees) responded. The results below are based on that subset. Of the people who responded to the survey, 79.5% defined themselves and volunteers, and 20.5% as staff.

A few big-picture findings from the survey:

Most Summit attendees were first-timers

A diverse mix of GV “generations” was represented

Opinions about the Summit

Question-by-question survey results:

How satisfied were you with the following aspects of logistics the BEFORE the Summit (on a scale of 1 to 5)?

  • Community involvement in planning of Community meeting program and activities = 4.1
  • Logistical support and information from core and other staff = 4.7
  • Communication among Summiteers (Email list or WhatsApp group) = 4.4
  • Support and communication from travel agents (flight bookings, visas) = 4.5

How satisfied were you with the following aspects of logistics DURING the Summit (on a scale of 1 to 5)?

  • Accommodations at Mt. Lavinia Hotel = 4.6
  • Communication among Summiteers (Email list or WhatsApp group) = 4.4
  • Size of Summit group (ie number of GVers in attendance) = 4.5
  • Getting help from Core team on logistical and other issues = 4.6

Further comments regarding the organization or logistics of the Summit (summary):

  • Several people commented on the friendliness and helpfulness from everyone involved.
  • Some mentioned the number of different communication channels often felt overwhelming, and that perhaps a physical ‘bulletin board’ could have been placed in a strategic location at the hotel to make sure that those not constantly online could also be kept in the loop information.
  • Some thought program felt rushed with too many activities packed in, which was especially hard for people suffering from jet lag.
  • Several positive comments regarding the Mt. Lavinia Hotel and staff.
  • Regarding hotel rooms: suggestions that a question about room temperature for sleeping be incorporated into the pre-Summit survey, and there were some problems with roll-away beds in the rooms.
  • Suggestions that GV strive to be climate neutral at the next Summit by, eg. eliminating plastic bottles.
  • The intensity of emotions felt during the Summit.
  • Bring back regional team meetings during the Summit.
  • While there were opportunities to contribute with ideas for the program, there was a breakdown in the process when they became sessions in the final agenda.

Global Voices Summit 2017, internal meetings. Image by the Author

STAFF MEETING (newsroom eds, lingua eds, newsframes and other staff)

How would you rate the Staff Meeting overall?


On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied were you with the following aspects of the Staff Meeting?

Venue (Mount Lavinia Hotel meeting rooms) = 4.4
Meeting room set-up = 4.4
Catering = 4.8
Length of the days = 4.1
Overall program = 4.1


What is one thing that you’d like to see more of at the next Staff Meeting?

  • More contact, communication, and interaction between newsroom and Lingua
  • Reflection on common challenges and community nurturing
  • More information regarding GV financial issues: “who are the people among the paid staff and why, what they give to GV to receive money, what is their load of work and what they contribute to our community, etc.”
  • Training, skills-building, and interaction to design new processes of working together (brainstorming new projects and their collaboration harder to do online)
  • Reporting out
  • Joint, team-building fun activities
  • A little more structure and goal-oriented for the Lingua meeting
  • Workshops on incorporating multimedia


What is one thing that you’d like to see less of at the next Staff Meeting?

  • Less separation between Lingua and Newsroom
  • Less repetition of GV values and mission in every session
  • Too many icebreakers


Lingua in Colombo, 2017, photo by Jer Clarke


How would you rate the Community Meeting overall?


On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied were you with the following aspects of the Community Meeting?

  • Venue (Mount Lavinia hotel meeting rooms) = 4.4
  • Meeting room set-up = 4.2
  • Catering = 4.6
  • Facilitation during the community meeting = 3.9
  • Length of the lunch and breaks = 4.4
  • Length of the days = 4.0


On a scale of 1-5, how useful did you find the following types of session?

  • Icebreakers = 3.9
  • Breakout sessions (to work on a specific project or idea) = 4.3
  • Peer-led workshops = 4.2
  • Plenaries (sessions with whole group) = 4.1


Further comments/suggestions regarding the organization or logistics of community meeting:

  • Some of the days were too long
  • Many sessions felt rushed
  • Having more than one workshop in a single room was too much and it was difficult to hear.
  • Better preparation for A/V equipment
  • Organizing a “green” committee to help ensure a more environmentally-friendly meeting
  • Better managing of the time, more consistent external facilitation to manage the schedule/less external facilitation
  • More interaction with local communities


What is one thing that you’d like to see more of at the next Community Meeting?

  • Sessions on regional topics
  • Administration reports, discussion on GV future
  • Group work, workshops from people outside GV, sessions and opportunities to learn about other GV sections
  • Free time for networking
  • Sessions on how GV works
  • Digital security training
  • Discussion of climate change issues
  • Sessions on translation, writing process
  • Workshops, cross-country collaboration
  • Community involvement in the planning
  • Free time and breaks
  • Regional group sessions
  • Time for meeting between newsroom and lingua

What is one thing that you’d like to see less of at the next Community Meeting?

  • Icebreakers — instead, give more time for work
  • Last-minute preparation
  • Some interventions/speeches were too long
  • Groupings by people who already work together or know each other
  • ‘Feel-good’ sessions, less self-praise, personal reflection
  • Broad sessions — instead, spend more time on specific issues
  • Less rushing


Last session of the internal meetings at Mount Lavinia Hotel


How would you rate the Public Conference overall?


On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied were you with the following aspects of the Public Conference overall?

  • Venue at TRACE ExpertCity = 3.8
  • Meeting spaces set-up = 3.6
  • Catering (lunch and coffee breaks) = 2.7
  • Closing Party = 3.7
  • Catering at the Closing Party (Food Truck) = 3.1


Comments/suggestions regarding the organization or logistics of the Public Conference:

  • Many comments on the poor wifi — this especially affected the social media team and presenters/facilitators that needed wifi for their sessions.
  • Spicy food during the lunches and the capacity of the food truck to handle a crowd.
  • Too much waste being produced (i.e. plastic forks and cups).
  • Some people liked TRACE as a venue, while others thought it presented too many logistical problems such as the distance from the hotel, as well as the competing sounds from nearby sessions and the heat for those sessions outside.
  • Changes in schedule and venues confused some attendees and were not communicated with the social media.
  • While descriptions of the program were online, not all attendees were up to date of the content of the sessions.
  • Some thought the closing party should be limited to the GV community, while others wanted more opportunities to interact with locals.


What is one thing that you’d like to see more of at the next Public Conference?

  • Regional corners (like South Asia)
  • Workshops on translations/cross-cultural communication
  • Small workshops, skills-building sessions
  • Engagement with local media and local current events
  • Sessions about GV, fake news, non-GV projects, storytelling, experiences from journalists and human rights activists, videos and photos, short presentations from the community, climate change issues, partner organization presentations, guests from large tech companies
  • Involvement from the community in organizing public conference.
  • Better facilities for roundtables and workshops
  • Indigenous-related topics
  • Longer workshops
  • Sessions related to Rising Voices
  • ‘Unconference’ format sessions
  • Audience participation, local perspectives
  • Booths or tables about specific issues


What is one thing you’d like to see less of at the next Public Conference?

  • Self-promotion/GV-centered sessions
  • Fewer participants in roundtable discussions
  • Less difference between the resources for the main stage and the rest of the program
  • Workshops
  • The public conference should be a place to ask questions and debate tough topics
  • Fewer lightning talks (hard to keep the schedule on track/no public interaction)
  • Fewer competing sessions
  • Fewer debates that “lead nowhere”
  • Too much burden placed on a small group of people for social media/live blogging
  • Fewer government officials
  • Less focus on harsh images and news
  • Fewer technical difficulties


Learning and connecting at the Summit

On a scale of 1-5, please say how true the following statements are for you:

  • I gained knowledge or skills from others that will help me in my GV work = 4.4
  • I shared knowledge or skills with others that will help them in their work = 3.8
  • It motivated me to contribute more to Global Voices = 4.7
  • I learned about and interacted with sections of GV I hadn’t before (i.e. Newsroom, Advox, NewsFrames, Lingua, Rising Voices) = 4.1
  • I joined or started a new project or initiative = 3.6
  • I forged deeper connections and friendships with GV colleagues = 4.7
  • I was able to share my viewpoints and was listened to = 4.5
  • I had opportunities to volunteer and be helpful = 3.8
  • I had a chance to lead a session if I wanted to = 4.2
  • I was able to contribute towards the program design leading up to the summit. = 3.5
  • Attending the Summit helped me better understand GV’s mission = 4.5
  • Attending the Summit helped me better understand GV’s values = 4.6
  • Attending the Summit helped me to better understand how GV operates as an organization = 4.4
  • Attending the Summit made me feel like an involved and valued member of the community = 4.6
  • Attending the Summit made me feel optimistic about GV’s future = 4.5
  • Attending the Summit made me feel more optimistic about the future of the world = 4.1


Thank you to everyone who completed the survey! The responses were illuminating and will be instrumental in guiding staff and community leaders as they plan our next big meeting. If you have more feedback to give, or you didn't have a chance to complete the survey, don't hesitate to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or to send them to the community or core staff.

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