Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Monday 24 February 2014

Frequently made mistakes in organizing a side event

An organization has developed a new initiative for conservation. They want to bring this initiative a step further by organizing a side event with their partners during a conference. The communication officer is asked to develop a plan for the side event:

In short her objectives (and means) are:
Present the current conceptual framework our initiative in the light of current discussions of the conference (through a presentation by one of the initiators)
      Present the logframes developed as a way forward for our initiative (by a panel discussion with experts).
     Invite suggestions on the challenges of applying this contextual framework at national and global level (through buzz groups).

Asked for suggestions on this plan she got as feedback this not going to work. You are jumping to means, you focus on the wrong audience and you have objectives that are not helpful to make the event a success.

Before developing the plan, she should have asked her boss:
Is this really possible? (no, the effective time one has for  a side event is only one hour)
Would this audience be available to attend our side event? (no, they would have their own events).
What is it that you really want and what we realistically can achieve? (e.g. support from conference participants for our initiative). 

On the basis of such last objective, she then could have developed communication objectives (see examples in illustration 1). Once her manager agreed with them she could look at how to achieve them and plan the session (see examples in illustration 2).

A good side event is based on good communication. Good communication is based on a clear and focused communication objectives that are the basis for the means and approaches chosen for the side event. It is not the other way around. And mind you: give enough attention to the attuitude objectives, they mostly come last if given any attention at all. 

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