Article 3: CPD Events

Graham Fletcher (MAIH)

Graham Fletcher (MAIH)

Graham Fletcher has over 45 years of experience in the Australian horticulture sector and brings a wealth of skills, knowledge and insights to the role of AIH's Ambassador Horticulturist.

This is the third of a short series of articles about the role of AIH in furthering education for its members. This article outlines how to prepare and present a CPD event. See also Article 1 and Article 2 in this series.

Background

The previous articles described a strategy to stimulating discussion about the future direction of CPD by AIH. To achieve this, volunteers are sought to prepare and present CPD events. What is important is that everyone who wants to educate anyone else needs to understand a few basics – expected outcomes, the role of show-and-tell (particularly with practical skills), knowing your audience, and a few others. 

At the same time, I’m keen not to tell people how to teach but to explain that the ability to pass on wisdom is easy and very rewarding if it is approached in a sensible way.

Preparing For An Event

This is a step-by-step outline of the necessary preparation. For this description, I have assumed the event will be presented by you. If it is by a team, the same steps apply, but communication is needed at each step with the other presenters for co-ordination. These steps also apply to all types of presentation and whether it is on-line or face-to-face.

STEP 1 – What is your presentation about – the topic, title?

The wording of this will probably change from a topic (the words to guide you during your preparation) to a title to be used for marketing the event.

STEP 2 – What outcomes do you expect the participants to achieve?

List the specific outcomes for the event. Outcomes are focused on the expected knowledge, skills and expertise that you would expect each participant to gain, and also on the level of each that you want them to achieve. The easiest way to do this is to start each outcome in the list with a verb. So, one might start as ‘understand the process of …’ and another may be ‘build’ a finished thing, or ‘develop’ a skill to a stated level.

STEP 3 – How will you achieve these outcomes?

There may be a particular order for the outcomes as they build from one to the next. List this order. The method for achieving each outcome will have a logical sequence to determine this and many techniques could be used through that sequence. A great presentation is one that moves at a pace that keeps the participants interested, has variety in how things are presented, and engages the participants whenever possible. To determine what you need to do, you need to know four things:

  • Your topic, not just the basics but at an expert level, to determine what is important and what isn’t;
  • Identifying any other presenters and what they would bring to the presentation. Please discuss this with them as part of your preparation;
  • Your participants, to determine what prior knowledge, skills and expertise they already have so that you can build on those; and
  • What facilities you will need to allow for the best methods of achieving the outcomes. This may require a limit on the number of participants, or a physical location with the necessary facilities, or written material to be prior-sent to each participant, or many other things. Aim for what you think would be best, then adjust how you achieve outcomes if some of these things aren’t available, too expensive, or too hard to do.

 

STEP 4 – How long will it take – timing?

When you have a good idea of what you intend to do, you need to calculate timing for each of the methods used to achieve each outcome. The timing may need to be determined via a flowchart or a step-by-step process that may link different outcomes together. I have found that you need to do a trial run yourself to test the timing, then add say 10-20% because the actual event always takes longer. Then consider if this matches the typical time allowed for this type of event. If not, consider reviewing STEPS 2 and 3.

STEP 5 – Write a proposal to AIH about the event

Proposal

AIH could prepare a standard template for the use of every CPD event, but this would need to include all the options for all types of events. Instead, here is the list of considerations for you to include in a proposal to AIH:

  • Describe what you have done to determine STEPS 1 to 4. Include as much detail as possible so that AIH won’t need to follow up on things that are too vague;
  • Please include any information about why this presentation is a good idea, because if this event happens, AIH will need this information to market it;
  • Outline what you have determined so far in regard to the cost of running the event – a payment for you isn’t usual, but it can be included; expected cost of a venue and any equipment or other resources; and any other foreseeable costs;
  • State if there is a preference for a particular date. If AIH approves the event, it will be included in the overall programme of events;
  • If you think that a particular sponsor is interested in being part of the event, please include their details. AIH will follow up with any sponsor, so include any details that AIH will need before contacting them; and
  • Put all of this in an email addressed to:
    • The appropriate AIH Regional Convenor – their contact details are here: https://www.aih.org.au/about-us/
    • Also copy the email to the AIH National CPD and RH Manager at rhmanager@aih.org.au
    • And also copy the email to anyone else who you have lined up as a possible presenter, a venue provider, and any proposed sponsor (but only if they already know that AIH will follow up with them).

STEP 6 – AIH will respond

AIH will add any costs that are needed for insurance, marketing materials or other things that may be needed, to arrive at a fee to charge participants based on a minimum number of attendees. AIH will then respond to you about anything that is unclear, and whether or not the proposal is approved or requires changes. AIH will also set out anything additionally that is required as part of the approval, and the steps you and AIH will need to take to make it happen.

STEP 7 – Review the outcomes

Once AIH responds with an approval or suggested changes, review STEPS 1 to 4 in light of the AIH response. Then confirm the date and time with others involved with the presentation. AIH will do some of the things and other things will be yours – AIH will let you know what they will do.

STEP 8 – How will this event be marketed?

I haven’t included any description here since this is something that the AIH will handle.

STEP 9 – Run the event

I haven’t stated anything here about the actual running since it should just be the result of the preparation. Of course, it will be very successful and other people will want you to do it again! So, after the event, you need to review all aspects of it, and document this review in detail because it may be some time till the next one, and have a different location, different types of participants, and things to fix that didn’t work the first time.

Final Note On Running An Event

There is a difference between the presentation of information as entertainment, and presentations for professional development which aim at career progression and development. For example, lifestyle television shows are primarily entertainment even though the better ones include plenty of information. CPD is more serious in its intent.

The way I judge the difference is whether participants feel that they need to take notes to refer to the information later. Please realise that some people ‘take notes’ by photographing or videoing presentations, but this is poor practice. Filming the video will be their opportunity to not concentrate on what is being presented, and rarely will anyone re-watch their own video or use their photos of a presentation. This participant has probably learnt very little from attending. 

To assist participants to get the most from the event, consider providing them with a running sheet so they can follow where the event is up to, or providing the participants with access to the Powerpoint presentation for a limited time after the event.

All digital presentations are stored and usually accessible into the future, so be careful what you say. Other than that, enjoy your presentations! 

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for successful events? Comment below and contribute to our discussion.

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