As consultants in participatory processes, we have observed that many organizations plan their special events such as conferences, workshops, forums, assemblies, etc. differently than their everyday business meetings.

We wonder, “What do these two kinds of events have in common? What are the differences between them? And “What can we learn from one to strengthen the participants’ experience in the other?”

The following chart invites reflection on the success factors for participatory processes. Put a ? to indicate the presence of these elements in your events and meetings.

Success Factor

Special Event

Every day meeting

Planned in advance.
Has a budget assigned.
Location is chosen with care.
Organizing committee is in charg.
Invitation directed toward a specific public
Purpose is clear and shared with all.
Program is designed to stimulate interest in attending.
Participants have ample opportunity to contribute to the discussion
Time is allotted for each activity and time limits are respected.
Someone is responsible for preparing/leading each activity.
Program is outcome-oriented.
Physical needs and the well being of participants are taken into consideration.
Relevant information is shared in advance.
Results, commitments and next steps are promptly communicated after the event.
Support roles (facilitation, welcome, translators, documentation, food, etc.) are assigned or contracted.
Bosses, directors, decision-makers are involved in the planning and present at the event.

Guiding questions for the analysis of the results

  • What draws attention to this comparison?
  • What significance do these results have for our organization?
  • What changes should we make so that special events as well as our daily meetings shine and justify the investment of time, money and human resources?

Final thought: All your meetings, special or everyday, deserve both careful planning and an outcome-oriented focus.