Risks and Pitfalls of CPD Events

Pitfall/risk Response
Lack of adequate communication before the event affects attendance figures
  • Planned communications strategy
  • Long lead in time to event – 2 months of communications needed for preparation
  • Use organisational forums to communicate
  • Include a range of channels, e.g. email, flyers, posters, meetings
  • Have a project plan in place for delivering the event with comms identified at each stage
People not engaged with the idea of the event so not motivated to attend
  • Cross organisation working group formed to engage others and plan and promote the event, so that it is owned by them
  • Messaging focuses on benefits for attendees and the wider organisation, pitched to audience effectively
Another big event is scheduled for the same day
  • Use your senior management project sponsor to make your event highly visible and to protect the date for you
  • Keep your ear to the ground about possible date clashes and intervene quickly to protect your slot – it’s in nobody’s interest if there’s a fight on for attendees’ time
People don’t volunteer to present or contribute
  • People encouraged to contribute but in non-threatening ways, i.e. can do a display and be available to answer questions if they don’t want to do a training session or presentation
  • Everyone must contribute but can choose the format
  • People encouraged to form pairs or groups to have more confidence when presenting
  • Keep sessions fairly short so people are not intimidated – no more than an hour
  • Coaches provide support in preparing for the event
Death by Power Point
  • Encourage a range of session types
  • Think outside the box – How to posters, video clips on a loop?
  • Explicitly limit numbers of slides per presentation
  • Tap into creative people who can help others to create visually engaging presentations and displays
Logistical issues like too many people in one space at break or not enough time to move between sessions
  • Consider numbers and flows of people during the event
  • Build in break slots for people to move from one session to another
  • Consider layout of the event – rooms in one area work better than a spread out event
Too much sitting down in one place so people get bored and passive
  • Explicitly encourage interactive sessions that involve movement, discussion and activities
  • All presentations must have a related activity and Q&A slot
On the day, people don’t know where to go, have lost their booking information, can’t find rooms etc
  • Maps of the building and signs on walls
  • A programme of the day with rooms listed
  • Transport info and directions sent well in advance to external guests
  • PLENTY of people at key spots to direct attendees
  • A sign in area for guests and presenters
  • Notice boards with session info on
  • A procedure for lost property, with a note on the programme about where to go
Dietary requirements not adequately addressed
  • Vegetarian food labelled separately
  • Food available that is ok for people with gluten intolerance (i.e. not just sandwiches!)
  • Herbal teas as well as caffeinated ones
  • Water available, especially in summer
On the day solo presenters are ill/have crashed their car/ disappeared!
  • Contingency plan for absence, e.g. notices on doors of rooms to inform people session is cancelled and giving them options (so card, pens and blue tac available at registration desk just in case)
  • Contact numbers recorded for presenters so things can be checked if they don’t materialise
IT problems
  • Clear communication well in advance for presenters about IT facilities – presenters’ guidance notes
  • Ask presenters to consider what they could do if IT systems fail
  • Planning in advance with IT team about what is possible with their responsibilities noted on the event plan

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