Value – Harnessing the Power of Your Smart Phone

Telling your Story Vs Sharing your Experiences

Smart phones are things we all want and when we have, we take for granted, using not even a third of their amazing functions and available apps. We must appreciate that this small gadget is increasingly becoming versatile, like, if not more than, the famous swiss army knives – has everything you may need to survive the wilderness that is the online social arena.

It is one thing to be able to use your phone to take pictures and videos and share them to social sites, and another thing altogether to harness all the fantastic features and functions on your smart phone to clearly articulate your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and share your stories.

This is something we all fall victim to, but in my opinion more so for development workers who have to document work while in the field and are often hampered by the traditional bulky media documentation equipment. These days, information is about the fastest and clearest getting to the audience in the most user friendly of formats, and sadly, this requires the correct use of a smart phone.

For NGOs that have only recently started embracing intentional communications in delivering their mandate and building new constituencies online, it is important to not only have a smart phone, but also know how to maximize its functions and features and online apps, free or paid, to get the best out of this costly investment. Smart phones are for more than just social media and WhatsApp.

UNNGOF staff recently proved this true – your smart phone can be the difference between you beating a documentation deadline or even just touching the hearts of those you represent and winning support to your cause, and failing to meet your reporting obligations.

With the help of Alzar Media, a fully integrated media production and digital marketing firm based in Kampala, UNNGOF staff took out two days from their busy schedule to learn how to tell our stories audio-visually. What is audio visual story telling? Well, let’s just say we learned amazing video and photography techniques using our smartphone gadgets, and writing skills, focusing on proper story boarding! Call it digital story telling if you like.

The Alzar team – warm…fun…friendly…dedicated…gifted…flexible…professional… Let’s just say it was a pleasure to work with a team that is more interested in delivering value and sharing their craft than with making money.

In our sector, we continually meet firms who only view NGOs as cash cows. In engaging with them, it is clear to us that the bottom line, and not the value addition is the driving factor. Many prey on our supposed ignorance and rumored huge budget lines to offer us services. Pleasantly, this was not the case with Alzar Media. Thanks to them, we as a team are able to not only identify, but also demand for quality service and delivery with competence, in regards to documentation, digital products and more. More importantly, we are better able to tell our stories using just our smart phones and available software. We certainly fulfilled our objectives building the capacity of staff to capture great videos and photos using their mobile phones; enhancing staff capacity to ‘tell our story’ effectively through writing great stories; and improving staff documentation and report writing skills.

This hands-on interaction saw the areas of writing, photography and videography with smart phones simplified. Aspects of photography like lighting, framing, storytelling, angles and such, were simplified and properly understood by staff. In our writing session, we were advised that the best way to write better is to read three times more than you write. We even had a bonus session on branding and how to build our online personas! And so much more.

Oh, and we must mention the amazing yet simple to use software we were introduced to – Snapseed for editing pictures on smart phones that avails you with professional quality photo edits, enabling you to enhance photos and apply digital filters, available for both android and iOS. rightly brags that “Snapseed without any doubt is one of the very best Photo Editing Application out there…the SNAPSEED app lets you achieve all the features and quality editing you would find and expect in a professional picture editing software. Butwithout the extra complexities…being the perfect easy photo editing app to come out with professional photos and pictures.”

And Wondershare Filmora for our laptops, a simple video editor that empowers your stories. Filmora, as we learned, is an all-in-one video editor with powerful functionality and a fully stacked feature set. says it right – “It makes professional video editing easy with an intuitive interface, drag and drop editing, and a great range of advanced video editing features. Filmora provides a bunch of creative features you can use to make your videos stand out. Transform your video with a range of filters add graphic overlays, text and titles. You can also drag and drop moving elements onto your video.” Believe it, we proved it true.

Audio visual story telling by Alzar Media is definitely a training we would confidently recommend to any organisations out there that are passionate about improving their documentation and telling their story.

The plus of it is that the training also fosters a kind of natural team build since staff work in teams different from their usual operational ones. It involves the use of personal mobile phones and therefore you offer your staff skills that they can apply to their everyday lives beyond just their jobs. Photos and pictures are a very important part of our lives and allow us to cherish bits of our past lives and memories. Being able to keep the best quality of these is an obvious bonus, especially if you are equipped with simple skills to be able to ensure this quality easily, by yourself and at no extra cost.

Value – that which makes everything all the more enjoyable!

By Sarah Pacutho