Conferences, talks, panels and other events regularly gather together people to share individual and movement knowledge regarding ways to create social change. As part of the Commons Library Skills Share sessions in November 2022 this session focussed on skills related to documenting such events so that learnings can be shared beyond the event. Many of the examples included are from Australian Progress conferences – we are proud to have collaborated with Progress to provide conference content curation and look forward to future events.
Tips from the Session
Why gather materials at events?
- The Commons Library seeks to gather the collective wisdom of people engaged in social change. We are on the look out for opportunities to access and share that knowledge.
- Conferences are key moments of social movement knowledge production which can be catalysts for innovation and collaboration. There can be much greater lasting value from conferences via sharing the resources generated at them.
- Conference organisers tend to be focused on the core logistics of delivering the conference and have limited capacity to curate resources. The Commons can contribute complementary skills and focus to support the effectiveness of conferences while increasing the library contents.
- Knowledge spreads from conferences through the people who attend, who change their practices, or get excited and pass insights on to others. We support that mode of learning by making recordings, handouts and articles available, which can help make sure things don’t get lost in translation.
- We also give people the chance to learn from conferences, beyond attending or connecting with people who attended. Potentially people can learn from a conference by accessing materials on the Commons, potentially on the other side of the world after a number of years have passed.
Examples of materials gathered at events
The materials gathered at conferences can take many different forms:
- Check out the range of materials gathered by the Commons Library at the Australian Progress conference FWD+Organise 2021.
- Articles written by presenters, for example Renee Carr adapted her FWD+Organise 2021 speech into the article Five Lessons from Fair Agenda’s Campaigns for Access to Abortion Care in Australia
- Articles written by participants based on presentations, for example Joel Dignam’s article Top 3 Messaging Tips from Anat Shenker-Osorio at Progress 2019
- Articles gathering multiple insights from workshops, such as Barnstorming in the Australia Context written by Commons librarian Antje Dun
- Articles based on presentations along with additional helpful resources, for example Deep Canvassing to Shift Hearts, Minds and Votes shares lessons from Caitlin Homrich-Knieling’s plenary and workshop at FWD+Organise 2021 along with related articles, podcasts and videos gathered by Antje Dun (as well as the related Deep Canvassing Scripts article)
- Recordings of sessions, such as the video of Carly Findlay’s Centre the voices of people with disability presentation at Progress 2017, and the audio of the Solidarity in Times of Crisis panel at Progress 2019
- Crowdsourcing information at conferences can be a powerful way to draw on the knowledge of presenters and participants. For example Holly Hammond collated comments from the event chat at Virtual Progress to compile Disability Justice Links
It’s not just about conferences!
- The Commons has collated each season of the ChangeMakers Organising School to make it easy for people to work their way through the session recordings and related resources.
- The Commons has compiled articles, including recordings, from each of our 2022 Skills Sessions
Event reporting tools
Here are some different tools you can use as part of event reporting, to encourage participation and share knowledge:
- Live Tweeting – using the event hashtag, sharing key quotes from presenters, finding out what has been resonating for participants
- Event chat – online events provide a great opportunity to ask questions, share answers, and direct people to related resources
- Vox Pops – one way to find out what people are thinking at an event
- Polls – a quick way to get participation and feedback
- Stalls or Virtual Booths – a chance to talk to people in breaks and gather information
Preparing for event reporting & tips for on the day
- Gather a team of reporters
- Review the programme and identify sessions of interest
- Assign people to sessions based on their interest and availability
- Set up a collaborative notes document, such as a Google doc, for note taking
- Include the conference blurb and presenter info for easy reference
- Contact presenters in advance (or have the conference organisers do so) to let them know about the potential for
- (a) them to submit their own articles, slides or notes
- (b) an article to be written based on their session
- (c) get their consent/check if anything is sensitive
- Develop a social media plan – who will do what and potential opportunities in the program to prepare for
- On the day:
- Stay in touch with the team, let each other know about changes etc
- Keep notes in the collaborative doc during sessions
- Factor in breaks
- Where possible check in with presenters
- Differences between online and offline events:
- Online provides lots of opportunity for engagement in the chat, crowd-sourcing etc
- Offline provides the opportunity to make in-person contact with presenters
Tips for event organisers
To make it easier to gather content from events:
- Let presenters know that content will be gathered
- Have an easy system for presenters to share their materials
- Let presenters know that it’s optional
- If the Commons is curating let participants and presenters know our role
- Record your sessions – have one platform where you upload videos, have a consistent naming protocol, and include the session blurb and presenter bios
- See the collected presentations and articles from Australian Progress conferences
- See other Commons Library Skills Sessions held in 2022
Thanks to the John T Reid Charitable Trust for their generous support with this and the Commons Library’s other Skills Sessions.