About this Toolkit

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What is a convening?

We’ve all been to conferences: Events where other experts stand in the front of the room and tell attendees the latest information, share best practices and discuss research findings. The panels and breakout sessions may or may not leave any time for you to engage with the presenters, or to consider how to apply the learnings to your own work. At a convening, on the other hand, every person in the room brings expertise, knowledge and skills that can be shared. Everyone has time and support to reflect and plan how to put your learning into action. A convening engages everyone in the learning process, and harnesses the potential of everyone in the room to develop and refine plans that enable individualized progress toward common goals.

Convenings can have various objectives—knowledge sharing, networking, ideation and workshopping of works-in-progress, collective action planning—to name just a few. Size varies from very small (less than 20 participants) to hundreds or thousands of participants. Some convenings can work virtually, and others require participants to be present in person. These are all factors to consider while developing the objectives of any convening.

Who is this Toolkit for?

This Toolkit is for the convening designer who wants to create an interactive experience that will leave participants feeling inspired, connected and accomplished. The resources and guidance in the Toolkit will help you to develop your objectives, plan a successful event and create momentum, connection and enthusiasm at your next convening. Throughout the Toolkit are tools, templates and relatable examples to help you plan and deliver a great event with quality. It includes the basics for the first time convening planner, as well as tips that will help experienced planners take their convenings to the next level.

EXCELLENT CONVENINGS…

Instead of...

Have clear objectives and outcomes for participants, such as walking away with new learnings, ideas and refined plans for action Convenings that are valuable only for networking, or feel like a meeting for meeting’s sake, or leave participants wondering what was accomplished
Consist of dynamic, differentiated sessions that keep participants engaged and motivated to learn and interact with each other Long stretches of “sit-and-get” sessions and “being talked at” by other experts, with little time to engage in meaningful discussions, reflect or apply the learning to your own work
Leave participants feeling reinvigorated, connected and excited about their next steps Leave participants feeling overwhelmed with new information but little to no plan for follow-up action