Designing an event to attract a policy audience
Why hold an event?
Hosting an event aimed at a policy audience can be a very effective way of communicating your research expertise. It can also provide a valuable opportunity for engagement and for developing useful contacts.
The purpose of an event can vary but can include:
- to promote a piece of research or a research centre or launch a particular activity
- to map stakeholder interests or engage them with your research
- to establish longer-term relationships with policy stakeholders to better understand the policy landscape you wish to engage with
- to provide an opportunity for dialogue and debate on a particular issue
Questions to ask yourself
- Why are you hosting the event?
- What do you want the event to achieve?
- What will you do to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is front and centre to planning and delivery of your event?
- How do you plan to engage a diverse policy audience?
- How do you plan to make the event accessible?
- Is the event primarily intended to showcase research, provide an opportunity for dialogue, build a relationship, or something else?
- What outcomes would you like to see from the event? How can you evaluate these? What format?
Consider a number of different formats, including:
- public event – a larger event, open to all, focused on a policy issue. Usually includes both academic and policy speakers, and audience questions
- seminar – a smaller event, usually with an invited audience, with short presentations and a discussion
- roundtable – a small, invitation-only event with a chaired discussion on a particular issue
- workshop – a small, invitation-only event with a particular focus on participants identifying and working through problems to generate solutions
- online – events can be online or in person. If online, think about which platforms to use, given your audience size and event type; UCL recommends MS Teams
To attract a diverse policy audience, your event should be focused on a policy-relevant issue. Generally speaking, the more topical an issue is or the more your event addresses a policy ‘need’, the more likely you are to engage policy professionals.
Try to use an engaging but clear title for your event.
Partnering with a policy organisation to co-produce the event, or otherwise involving policy stakeholders (e.g. through an invited speaker), is likely to increase its appeal and impact.
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