Stratagies for Planning Effective Scientific Workshops by gjmpzlaezgx


									Strategies for Planning
  Effective Scientific
       Amanda Staudt
 National Wildlife Federation
   Friday, April 13, 2007
Introductions and opening remarks
   Introductions:
       Who are you?
       What do you work on?
       Tell us about a memorable
        scientific workshop experience
        (positive or negative)

   Opening remarks
       What is a scientific workshop?
       What makes scientific workshops challenging to plan?
       Managing expectations
       Everyone is busy!
   Setting clear objectives                             PLANNING
   Crafting the agenda
       Practice activity
   Guidance to speakers and participants
   Advertising
                                                DURING THE WORKSHOP

   Seamless logistics
   Facilitating discussions
       Practice activity
   Follow up                                        AFTER THE EVENT

What are some topics of workshops that you would like to attend?
       Pick top 5 ideas for use during practice activities
Setting clear objectives for the workshop
 Meeting some stated need
 Some common goals of workshops include
       sharing info among colleagues
       sharing info among different groups of experts
        (e.g., cross disciplinary; science-policy)
       examining a problem and looking for a solution
       scoping a new area/project
 Attainable
 Communicated to everyone at the outset
Setting clear objectives for the workshop:
Some examples
2.    Understanding and Improving
      Forecasts of Rapid Changes in           sharing info
      Hurricane Intensity                        among
4.    A National Integrated Drought            colleagues
      Information System
9.    Assimilating Ecological, Biological,    sharing info
      and Geosciences Process Studies and       among
      other Data Sources into Climate          different
      Models                                   groups of
10.   Intersection of the Carbon and            experts
      Water Cycles
18.   Space Weather Forecasting              examining a
19.   Improving the Skill of Precipitation   problem and
      Forecasts                              looking for a
A1.   Developing a National Strategy for       solution
      Seasonal-to-Interannual Forecasts
A5.   Oceanic Drivers for Seasonal-to-       scoping a new
      Decadal Climate Variability in the      area/project
      Mid- and High-Latitudes
Crafting the agenda (1)
   How best to meet the objectives?

   Some different variants, which you can mix and match:
       Seminar style
            a long presentation followed by Q&A
            good for conveying background context, setting the stage
       Conference style
            12-15 minute talks, followed by 1-3 minutes for discussion/Q&A
       Panels
            3 or more panelists who give short remarks followed by a
             monitored discussion/Q&A period
            good for topics that need a lot of discussion
       Breakout groups
            good for working sessions to refine themes, discuss implications,
             develop action items, etc. from plenary discussions
       Concurrent sessions on different topics
       Respondents/discussants
       Paper/abstracts in advance
       Training sessions/opportunities interspersed
Crafting the agenda (2)
   Intro/stage-setting presentations
       Welcome/logistics: typically best done by the master
       Ensuring that everyone understands the objectives:
        typically best done by the chair/facilitator
       Setting the right tone and giving background context:
        typically best done by an invited, “keynote” speaker or
            Positive
                                        Tiny tip:
            Constructive               Calling it a “keynote
            Energizing                 presentation” can help you
            Outraged                   to get a bigger name
                                        speaker who might not
            Others?                    otherwise be interested in
                                        attending the workshop!
                                                      Workshop Woe:
Crafting the agenda (3)                                 So many talks
                                                      crammed in that
                                                      there’s no way to
   Building in time for discussion                       digest the
       One reason why everyone is gathered
        (we could all read about each other’s
        work from the comfort of our homes)
       Tendency to shortchange this part of a meeting because
            Individual presenters always want more time
            Large time chunks on the schedule with no
             specific agenda make organizers nervous
       Have faith that participants    Tiny tip:
        will participate: they are      Speakers usually will fill all of
        there because they WANT         their allotted time, even if some
        to talk about this stuff        is designated for discussion. Give
                                        them a shorter time to speak and
       Don’t overbook                  build in 20-30 min. specifically for
                                        discussion after every 3-4
                                                Tiny tip:
                                                If you notice
                                                lots of folks
Crafting the agenda (4)                         starting to slip
                                                out, it’s time
                                                for a break!
   Build in breaks
       No more than 2 hours between breaks
       15-20 minutes is a good amount of time
            Long enough to use restroom, get a beverage/cookie,
             chat with colleagues briefly
            Not so long that there’s a temptation to squeeze in a
             conference call or get distracted by other work
       It’s not wasted time!
            Participants have a chance to recharge
            Participants have a chance to interact
Crafting the agenda (5):
Some examples
   Earth-Atmosphere Interactions: Understanding
    and Responding to Multiple Environmental
   Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
    Strategic Planning Workshop
   Climate Research Committee Forum:
    Development of Integrated Earth System Analysis
   Archiving and Accessing Environmental and
    Geospatial Data at NOAA: NOAA Data User –
    Manager Forum
   Climate Change and U.S. Transportation
Practice Activity:
Design your own agenda!
   Groups of 5-6 people for each topic
       Join a group on a topic that you know
        something about
   Develop an agenda for a 2-day workshop
    on your topic
       What are the objectives of your workshop?
       What perspectives and information will be
        necessary to meet those objectives?
       How will you organize the workshop time (e.g.,
        presentations, panels, break-out groups)?
Guidance to speakers in advance
   One-on-one interaction with speakers                     Workshop Woe:
    to ensure clear expectations                              Speaker gives a
                                                             standard talk that
   What does this involve?                                    has little to do
                                                               with the stated
    At least:                                                    objectives
       Written (e-mail is fine) + oral invitation
       Follow up ASAP with travel information (if needed)
       Follow up about 1 month before
            Who else is on the agenda
            Reiterate details about timing, logistics
            What are some topics/issues that you        Tiny tip:
             want to make sure are brought out           Setting a limit to the
             during the workshop                         number of slides can
       Follow up about 1 week before                    ensure that speakers
            Final agenda                                stay within time limits
            And last minute questions                   and stick to the topic

    May need to work more closely with speakers if it is
    important to meet certain objectives during the workshop.
Guidance to participants in advance
   Briefing materials for participants
       Are they necessary?
       How much?
            Assume that they will be read (more likely skimmed!)
             on the airplane
       What?
            Might need more information if bringing together
             people from different disciplines/perspectives:
             background material helps ensure that participants
             are bringing some shared knowledge to the table
            If many speakers are going to be referring to one or
             more landmark studies, include some info about it
Advertising to ensure good participation
   Short and focused e-mail contact, with additional
    materials available upon request or online
   Targeting desired participants
   How frequently to advertise
    1.   As soon as you know the workshop is definitely happening,
         send out a “Save the Date” and perhaps inquire as to
    2.   3-6 months in advance, contact potential attendees with
         information about logistics (registration, accommodations,
         travel, etc.) and preliminary details about the agenda
    3.   2 weeks before any deadlines for accommodations,
         registration, etc., send out a reminder
    4.   2 weeks before the workshop, send out final (or near final)
    5.   2-3 days before, send out a final reminder
Seamless logistics (1)
   Attention to details is key!!
   Seems obvious, but common source of problems
   Choose a location that is conducive to attaining meeting
       Focused on a specific deliverable: avoid distractions
       Getting creative juices flowing: relaxing but invigorating
       If topic is controversial, pick a neutral setting
       Enough space, but not too much
   Where will people sit and how will it affect the dynamic?
   Name tags, tent cards, signing in
   Start on time, keep to the schedule
   How will one contact the                   Tiny tip:
                                               If participants need to
    organizers during the meeting?             go offsite for lunch,
   Meals, coffee, water, snacks               then you need to
                                                   build in extra time
Seamless logistics (2)
 Internet availability: pros and cons
 A/V: minimize time wasted by being
       Advancing slides
       Loading presentations        Workshop Woe:
        in advance                 Everyone is excited to
                                  get started, but has to
       Speaker see the slides      wait for the speaker
        and the audience         to load his presentation,
                                      figure out how to
       Laser pointers             advance the slides, &
                                     work the pointer.
Seamless logistics (3)
   Delegating responsibilities during the
       Logistics
       Master organizer
       Chair/facilitator
       Recorder/note taker
            Sometimes good to have different people for different
       Doorkeeper/meeter-and-greeter
Facilitating discussion (1)
   Setting ground rules
       How does one get recognized to speak?
       Is interrupting presenters okay?
       Managing the time                          Tiny tip:
                                                   If participants
                                                   have tent cards,
   Ways to engage the full group                  then standing
                                                   them on end can
       Round robin                                be a good way to
       Make sure everyone has a                   indicate when one
        chance to speak at the                     wants to talk.
        beginning (less daunting to speak later)
       Breaking into smaller groups
       Active agreement
Facilitating discussion (2)
   Important role of the chair/facilitator
       What the chair/facilitator should do:
            Set a positive, constructive tone
            Make sure the discussions don’t go off track
            Remain content neutral
            Listen actively to all group members
            Seek involvement and participation from everyone
            Seek agreement and understanding among group
             members by effectively paraphrasing or synthesizing
             major themes of discussion
            Navigate the way by guiding the process toward
             desired outcomes
            Help maintain ground rules
            Keep to the time specifications of the agenda OR
             clearly explain reasonable changes to agenda
Facilitating discussion (3)
   Important role of the chair/facilitator
       What the chair/facilitator should NOT do:
            Be a presenter
            Be responsible for logistics
            Take advantage of position and
             dominate the conversation
                                             Workshop Woe:
            Judge or evaluate ideas          Chair who has
             generated by the group         predetermined the
            Play favorites                   outcome of the
                                             discussions and
                                            refuses to consider
                                            alternative points
                                                 of view.
Practice Activity:
Have a Facilitated Discussion
 Rejoin your group from earlier
 Pretend that you’re attending the
  workshop that you planned
 Pick one of the discussion periods and
  have a discussion on the topic.
       One person should be the facilitator, making
        sure that everyone gets an opportunity to
       Another person should be the recorder, looking
        for opportunities to synthesize the group’s
Follow up
   Thank you notes to speakers
   Thank you and/or update to sponsors
   E-mail to all participants thanking them for their
    involvement and perhaps recapping major
    outcomes/action items
   Make meeting materials and outcomes available
    to participants and possibly other interested
    parties who were unable to attend
   Follow through on any action items
   Workshop evaluation
       Were the objectives met?
       Surveys to assess participants opinions
   Development of deliverables
Deliverables (1)
   In general, participants like to have longer-
    lasting value/outputs
       Presenters tend to be better prepared
       Participants tend to be more engaged (because they
        know their comments can have an impact on the output)
       Provides some focus to the discussions

   In some cases, knowing that there are no written
    outputs can create a sense of intellectual freedom
    (e.g., Gordon Conferences)

   Consider how formal the outputs need to be
Deliverables (2)
   Some options for deliverables
       Rapporteur presentations/reports
            e.g., CCSP workshop

       Minutes
            e.g., CRC meetings

       Reports
            e.g., BASC summer studies, AMS policy colloquiums

       Webposting
            lots of examples
   Workshops are an excellent way for scientific
    experts to interact and collectively work toward
    stated objectives
   Careful planning of the agenda can enable a
    workshop to meet the objectives
   Attention to logistical details can improve the
    workshop experience for all participants
   A well facilitated discussion is an important
    component of an effective meeting
   Consider developing workshop deliverables to
    create longer lasting value

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