UCL Public Policy


Designing an event to attract a policy audience

The UCL Public Policy team provides support, advice and guidance to enable effective academic-policy engagement and develops strategic partnerships with policy stakeholders including the support for many events. Find our tips on running a successful event to attract policy audiences.

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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