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18 October 2018
Making the most of events Print
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 00:00
Events are part and parcel of the DRUSSA programme, with the launch and Benchmarking I events kickingstarting it and presenting the first opportunity for representatives from the various university teams to meet one another and the DRUSSA team. Then, of course, followed the DRUSSA university implementation events during the last half of 2012 and throughout 2013. At these event workshops many implementation teams listed the hosting of events as an excellent way to communicate research to internal as well as external stakeholders. 
But holding an event is a tricky business—as much as you can convey a lot of information to a large number of people in one go, events can also sometimes be catastrophic. No matter how well you plan and prepare for an event, very often circumstances that could not have been foreseen can threaten your meticulously planned event. 
So why even bother to organise or attend events, given their relative expense and the many factors that render them risky? The benefits are many, provided you plan well.
Bear in mind, there are many types of events, ranging from big international events that last days on end, to one- or two-day workshops, educational events like the DRUSSA postgraduate short courses presented by CREST at the University of Stellenbosch, one-hour presentations, science cafes, seminars, symposia, webinars, debates, TED talks and MOOCs, among others. Even meetings with your stakeholders can be termed events. All these have their place and, used strategically, can help you achieve your communication, engagement and influencing objectives. A document you may find very useful is the one produced by On Think Tanks blogger Enrique Mendizabal, Communication channels and tools for policy research centres. Not only does the document detail the value of events, it also looks at the role of publications, digital and media channels in your overall communication strategy.    
Writing on the Impact and Learning blog of the Institute of Development Studies, Public Affairs and Policy Officer Hanna Corbett lists some reasons why hosting and attending events should be avoided at times. They’re expensive, for one, and sometimes there are more effective ways to communicate with your target audience.
However, in Organising or Attending an Event? How to get the most out of it, Corbett also lists some pointers on how to get the most out of events, whether you’re the host, the organiser or a participant. Among the nine points listed are making sure the purpose of the event is clear, setting goals that are realistic, making sure your venue has the right facilities and choosing a good chair or facilitator.
Despite the risks, you stand to gain a lot from attending or organising events. Why not let us know what your experience has taught you? What have been your successes and what have you identified as risks?