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Workshops and similar events

Events of this type are live group meetings, intended as discussion, training or sharing of experiences, most often on a prespecified topic. They come in many different flavours and are known by a variety of names. Examples are:

  • workshops
  • work meetings
  • seminars
  • round table discussions
  • conferences
  • congresses
  • information events
  • intensive courses
  • Internet “webinars”

Most often than not the participants in these events, regardless of whether they are active agents or simply attend the event, gave certain background knowledge in the topics discussed, which rarely are appropriate for the general public. The intensive information exchange is typical, therefore it is rarely possible to rely only on recall or notes, taken by the participants themselves. Priceless for all participants and attendees are the preprinted handouts, distributed among all concerned before, after or during the event.

Unlike the not so distant past, when all (or at least most) of these handouts were printouts (i.e. hardcopy), today e-materials (i.e., files) and are typically distributed over the Internet.

Types of materials by media and distribution strategy

Depending on the media the materials, prepared for a workshop, can be:

Type of material Examples Distribution
Printouts Flyers, posters mail, by hand
е-materials pdf-/text file e-mail, uploading to a web page/site
Multimedia executable file(s) e-mail, handing out of CDs/DVDs, uploading to a web page/site
Web pages (site) html files at a web address (URL) uploading a web site and referring to the link for downloading or on-line viewing

This multitude of materials, media and distribution strategies gives rise to numerous combinations, and the particular circumstances determine the most appropriate approach on a case by case basis.

There are events, where the organisers take care to produce the required materials, and the participants are expected only to deliver an e-material of his own presentation to a certain deadline. Other times, the organisers prepare only general promotional materials and the program itself, and the handouts to the individual presentations, if any, are the concern of the participants.

Preliminary or general materials and program of the event

The preparation of the organisers for a workshop, a seminar, a conference or a congress involves two types of handouts and other promotional materials: general and program-specific. The specifics of general promotional materials are such, that they are not tied to the actual program, i.e., who is coming and who is cancelling.

Examples of general promotional materials include, e.g.:

  • promotional posters, which can be sent out to partner organisations early. These contain artwork, logos of organisers, sponsors, title of the event, dates and venue. Also contact info, deadlines, keynote speaker(s). Electronic versions can be produced if the distribution strategy commands it. In some cases it can even supersede the printed version completely.
  • flyers, containing title, event description, venue, dates, deadlines, contact information.
  • event folders with pockets, stuffed with promotional materials. Layout contains title, logos, artwork, dates and venue.
  • promotional objects, like notebooks, pens, pencils, gadgets.

Common for all general materials is the fact that they can be conceived and produced ahead of time, as the general parameters like time span, venue, and dates have emerged.

Program-specific materials, on the other hand, are often at least partly not ready until just a few days before the date of the event. Here are a few examples:

  • program of the event: a leaflet, a brochure, or a poster depending on the size of the event.
  • individual named badges for the registered participants in the event
  • handouts for individual presentations
  • event proceedings, detailed materials of the participants, who have sent their materials on time.

A most modest financial commitment of the organisers, which is also the required minimum is: a small but well conceived set of promotional materials and a program, which are sent out to the participants beforehand as e-documents.

E-materials, multimedia, and Internet

All printed materials referenced above can be duplicated as e-materials (e.g., PDF- or text files) to be distributed by e-mail or uploaded to the page(s) or site of the event. This is particularly appropriate with the materials, which have not shown up by the expiration of the technology permitted deadlines. as well as with the program, which can effectively be modified until the end of the event.

Increasingly more often we see one or more dedicated web pages (e.g., on the site of the organiser) or, rarely, a dedicated web site (which may be more labourintensive, and more expensive, as well).

Anticipated distribution (print runs)

With the workshops and events of this group the anticipated distribution of the materials respectively, the anticipated number of visits of the specialised web page/site or the number of downloads of e-materials; print-runs of printed materials) is in the order of several dozen. Only with the larger scale events like symposia and congresses the numbers can reach a few hundred.