Briefing is key - How to give a good cleanup briefing

Briefing is Key – How to Give a Good Cleanup Briefing

Briefings of any kind can be challenging whether you like speaking in front of a crowd or not. To help you get through your moment in the cleanup spotlight here are some briefing tips for getting your cleanup crew ready for the job ahead.


It’s called a briefing for a reason

As the name suggests a good briefing is well, brief! Do yourself and your volunteers a favour and keep it short. They haven’t come to hear you talk they’ve come to clean up the beach. Stick to your notes and focus on the key things the volunteers need to know about the cleanup.

Group of volunteers listening to a beach clean up briefing
Ideally pick a nice covered spot out of the elements


Be prepared

Take a leaf out of the scout handbook and be prepared. Take some time prior to the day of your event to think about what the volunteers need to know. Make notes to jog your memory while you’re speaking and ensure you don’t forget key points of information.


What to talk about in the briefing

While every cleanup will be a little different, we find the following topics apply to most cleanups:

The briefing intro

Say hi and give your volunteers a quick rundown on why we’re cleaning up, we’ve included some key facts on the Bali waste crisis here for example. Pick just one or two key facts or figures to share – more information can be provided on posters, flyers and online. Remember to thank everyone for coming along

The program

This is the nuts and bolts of the cleanup event! Remind volunteers to register, tell them where to pick up gloves and bags, where to refill their water bottles and importantly where to focus their clean up efforts (particularly if it’s a large, spread out area).  Also let them know what time to be back at the meeting point, and where you want them to leave their trash bag.

Health and safety

Make sure volunteers to wear gloves while collecting trash. Remind them to be careful when collecting potentially sharp materials such as glass. Alert them to where to go for first aid if needed. If your clean-up location has specific dangers such as busy roads or poisonous plants and animals, highlight these for your volunteers. While it should be common sense, it’s always worth reminding parents and guardians to keep an eye on little ones.

Trash collection

Explain how you want trash collected, maybe there are different bags for glass and plastic. If you’re collecting data through the trash collection explain how to correctly fill out the data collection form and where to hand it in at the end of the cleanup. 

The don’ts

Explaining what you don’t want volunteers to do can be as important and telling them what you do want them to do. Remember to include the don’ts in your briefing. These could be as simple as reminding people not to walk/climb onto the vegetation.

volunteers collecting equipment e.g. tongs
Volunteers collecting their tools after a cleanup briefing


Make yourself heard

Depending on your location you may need to raise your voice when briefing. You want the volunteers to hear what’s being said, it’ll help the day run more smoothly. Ask them to move in a little closer, don’t be shy!

Picking a suitable meeting point and briefing area can be done when visiting the cleanup location ahead of time. Remember to make sure there’s enough room for volunteers to stand around and that it’s not overly noisy.

Emma giving a cleanup briefing
Ocean Mimic founder Emma giving a cleanup briefing!


What about media?

If you’ve organised for the local newspaper to come to your event, you may want to hold a separate briefing for them. This can be done more informally through a conversation. You may want to highlight the environmental issues in more detail. They may also want a little more information about yourself and why you, personally, are getting involved in the issue. It’s always a good idea to have key information printed out (or ready to email out) for media representatives. Reporters will be interested in the post-event details too, so be sure to follow up with this. Few examples of clean up coverage Ocean Mimic have recieved in Bali and globally for inspiration, so don’t be shy!


Be you!

Remember, your cleanup briefing doesn’t have to be perfect and you’ll get better with practice as you run more cleanups. The best speakers don’t try to be something they’re not. Just try to be natural – let your passion for the environment show. This is your chance to raise awareness and quite possibly inspire a bunch of people… it all starts with you!

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