Communicating Research for Influence

The International Development Research Centre is the premier development research centre in Canada. They support research in developing countries to promote growth and development. The result is innovative, offering lasting local solutions that aim to bring choice and change to those who need it most. Once every two years, the IDRC organizes an Annual Learning Forum for its employees in Ottawa and its four regional offices in Montevideo, Dakar, Nairobi, and New Delhi. In 2011, the theme of the Annual Learning Forum was Communicating Research for Influence. The IDRC wanted to design an event that would go beyond panels, PowerPoint presentations, and workshops. Rather, they wanted to engage the participants on the topic of communicating research for influence drawing on their own experiences, as well as learn new skills they could put to use right away to improve their effectiveness. The event typically draws approximately 200 participants.

The Project

Global Learning Partners, (GLP) Inc. joined the IDRC event planning committee as its learning facilitator. Working with the committee to prepare successive drafts of the event design led to the decision to feature a morning series of fifteen 30-minute concurrent “Unposter Sessions”. These Unposter Sessions were designed to highlight IDRC experiences and case studies, engage the participants in a dialogue about what has been already learned, and invite them to apply those experiences in their own work. The afternoon featured five (5) concurrent 90-minute skill-building workshops on data visualization, web analytics, and video production, for example, where the participants were invited to try out and practice new skills.

Two months prior to the event, GLP worked individually with each of the Unposter Session presenters and skill-building workshop leaders to design of their sessions – encouraging dialogue, a reliable sequence, less presentation, powerful open questions, and good time management.

GLP also moderated the event itself: 200+ participants, bilingual French and English, with two off-site video conferencing rooms for Montevideo and Nairobi offices.

Finally, GLP designed and facilitated the debriefing and evaluation meeting following the event.

The Value

For a highly qualified but fully engaged planning committee, GLP brought additional expertise and capacity to the table to turn the planning committee’s ideas into an effective program for the Annual Learning Forum. Working intensively with the presenters and workshop leaders we were able to review, coach and provide feedback on their work to ensure genuinely engaging sessions and productive skill-building workshops. For example, during one skill-building workshop the 30 participants practiced putting together a 6-shot 60-second video using an off-the-shelf camera.

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