How to plan and conduct an effective stakeholder consultation: 7 top tips (Part 1)

by: Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

I wanted to write about top tips for conducting a stakeholder consultation because it is so important to do it right in order to maximize your time and financial investment. The people in attendance are willing to give you the greatest gifts you could receive: their time and their wisdom. It is therefore your obligation to carefully construct the event. There have been other blogs written about stakeholder consultation, that you may also find useful, but I wanted to write about tips I have learned through my own experience.  With that, here are my top tips for conducting a stakeholder consultation to inform your research and KT:

start early

Start planning as early as possible

1) Start Early: You need to start planning at least 6-8 months in advance of the date you plan to hold your event. At this stage you should know: why you need to hold a stakeholder consultation including a general sketch of what you need to know from your stakeholders. Once you know this, you should also be able to roughly sketch out the categories and types of stakeholders you need to invite. Starting early is especially important if you plan to invite Chief Medical Officers of Health, as they need this much notice to be able to get it into their calendars.

2) Write a purpose statement: A purpose statement should be broad and should clearly establish the overarching goal of the meeting. Once you know (as in #1) why you need to hold a stakeholder consultation this will be relatively easy. The purpose statement quickly summarizes why you are holding the meeting, but should include information such as: i) what is the nature of the meeting (e.g. ‘…to provide a forum for information exchange and open discussion….’), ii) who will be attending the meeting (e.g. ‘…between public health practitioners and researchers…’), iii) what the outcome of the meeting is intended to be (e.g. ‘…how current knowledge on partner notification could be incorporated into practice and how knowledge gaps could be addressed’). In this way, it gives participants a quick overview of what the meeting will be about and why their input is important toward achieving the meeting’s outcome(s).

Here is an example of a purpose statement:

To provide a forum for information exchange and open discussion between public health practitioners and researchers on how current knowledge on partner notification could be incorporated into practice and how knowledge gaps could be addressed.

Clearly articulate purpose and objectives of the meeting

Clearly articulate purpose and objectives of the meeting

3) Clearly articulate the objectives of the meeting: The objectives should be clearly articulated, and should relate to but be more specific than the purpose statement. It is critical to do this, and early on in the process. The objectives represent the anchor to which the rest of the meeting will be tethered. In other words, the people you invite, the activities you do, the focus questions you ask, will all be informed by what you are trying to achieve. Sadly, I have observed all too often that this step is neglected in favour of brainstorming and deciding on activities which inevitably end up being a mish mash of disconnected “stuff” that rarely results in a useful set of outcomes.   Usually you would have at least 2-3 objectives for the meeting, but you could have up to around 6, 7 or even 8 depending on what you are trying to achieve and how long the meeting is. Here are example objectives that nest under the purpose statement example above:

  • Provide participants with an overview of [organization name/researcher or project team name(s)] partner notification project and findings to date
  • Provide participants with opportunities to exchange information and ideas on partner notification strategies that have been attempted in local public health jurisdictions
  • Identify ways to incorporate knowledge from research and local experience into policy and practice
  • Identify knowledge gaps related to partner notification and ways to address them
  • Identify a potential role and next steps for [organization/researcher or project team name(s)] to facilitate the improvement of partner notification programs in Canada

 

Linking documentation together makes your meeting stronger

Linking documentation together makes your meeting stronger

4) Link all of your documentation: all documents for the meeting including (but not limited to) the meeting agenda, invitation letters, consistent breakout group/report back forms, evaluation forms should repeat the purpose statement and objectives at the top. Before the event, it helps the meeting organizers and planners to ensure activities are aligned with the purpose and help to achieve the meeting’s objectives as these various documents are being drafted and reviewed. At the event, it shows your attendees that you respect their time by having prepared a seamless and well-organized meeting package (the final documents should also be formatted uniformly). It also helps to ground the meeting as it unfolds, and provides a visual reminder to facilitators and participants of the purpose in case the discussion(s) begin to veer off track. It is especially important to ask participants on the evaluation forms how well they believe the meeting achieved its objectives.

5) Draft an agenda before sending out invitations: your invitees will likely have to book time off work or otherwise rearrange their schedules to attend your meeting, so they need to be able to determine whether their attendance can be justified. In many cases they will need to show the agenda to their employer (which is one reason why it is important to state the purpose and objectives at the top of the agenda) in order to gain approval to take leave from the office to be able to attend.

6) Piggyback onto another event: a popular option for conducting a stakeholder consultation is to tack it onto another event such as a conference that you know there is a good chance your stakeholders will be attending. This greatly cuts down on transportation costs, because if you are paying for your participants’ travel expenses all you have to do is pay for an extra hotel night instead of paying for their airfare as well. The only tricky part is that if the conference is not being coordinated by your own organization it can be difficult to gain access to the attendee list. If you don’t know which of your stakeholders will be attending it can make it a little more difficult to extend invitations strategically. However, you can also target local stakeholders in the city where the event is taking place; if you reach out and ask those stakeholders to come to your consultation it doesn’t really matter if they are already attending the other event because there will be no airfare/travel costs for them to attend anyway (the only expense will be food but you would have to provide that anyway).

Have good food at your consultation with stakeholders

Have good food for your stakeholders

7) Have good food: it’s the least you can do to thank people for their attendance, and it makes the day that much more enjoyable for them. Plus, the benefit to you is that your attendees will be able to think/ provide better input for you if they have had enough (and good) food and coffee. I usually ask the venue caterers to leave the coffee/tea and food out (as opposed to coming and picking up the food right after lunch) so people can ‘graze’ if they get hungry or need to be caffeinated throughout the meeting.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like advice on how to plan your stakeholder consultation (or other stakeholder engagement activities), contact the KT Core.

LinkedIn for knowledge translation: using groups for networking

By: Isaac Coplan (KT Coordinator)In-2C-121px-R

Networking is important to knowledge translation (KT), as relationships are a key part of KT processes. This is where social media can be useful in KT. Websites like LinkedIn provide a platform in which to expand your network and meaningfully engage with stakeholders. If used properly, social media can be incorporated into Integrated KT strategies as well as end-of-grant research dissemination.

What is LinkedIn?

In the Social Media for KT resource (What is social media & where to start) I wrote about LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is known to cater to professional audiences. They are also well designed so that search engines (such as Google and Bing) privilege information on their pages. This means that they will frequently be higher up when someone runs a web-search on your name (this process is also called search engine optimization).

LinkedIn was designed with the idea of allowing a place for professionals to connect online. It works as a sort of online resume or CV and online presence that can be populated with links, articles and posts. LinkedIn is not just about seeking employment, it can be an important tool to connect with a wide range of stakeholders. In April 2014, LinkedIn announced that it reached 300 million registered users, up from 200 million in 2013.

LinkedIn Groups

noun_15878_ccOne thing that I should also mention is the power of LinkedIn groups to expand your professional network. In LinkedIn groups, people frequently post questions or scenarios to their group, this allows for a conversation to occur naturally.Research Impact used their LinkedIn group to pose questions to KT practitioners in order to differentiate between knowledge translation and communications.  Analysis from the responses to this question on LinkedIn led to a research paper.

Groups can easily be searched (this Boolean search Tip sheet from LinkedIn is helpful). This provides you with access to over 1.5 Million groups. The search feature easily shows you if any of your existing connections are in groups and the relative popularity. This can allow you to quickly determine the groups that are already relevant to your networks.

How can expanding your LinkedIn network help you with your KT?
There are several benefits of networking that include:

  • Gaining greater visibility in professional circles
  • Being able to contribute to online conversations in your field
  • Providing another place for audiences to discover and contact you

In addition, expanding your research teams’ networks can become a rich source for getting feedback on your work. Two ways that this can be achieved are through:

  1. Gathering feedback from stakeholders to inform your research questions and approach
  2. Evaluating the work you have already completed.

Instead of creating a LinkedIn group that we would have to recruit members for, the KT Core expands our networks (connections to our profile page) by targeting policymakers, practitioners and other researchers that may find NeuroDevNet’s research useful in their work and sending them an invitation to connect.

LinkedIn can also be a part of a strategy to evaluate KT Products. For the evaluation of ResearchSnapshots, the KT Core sent personal messages to selected members of our LinkedIn network.  We asked the same questions of stakeholders in: Cerebral Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Autism Spectrum disorder and included a link to the ResearchSnapshots on our website for each of these major projects.  We wanted to answer questions like:

  • Do you find the snapshot a) interesting, b) useful, c) both useful and interesting? D) Neither useful nor interesting?
  • How have/would you use these ResearchSnapshot(s)?
  • If you would not use these ResearchSnapshot(s), why?

This provided the KT Core with valuable insight into the ways that different products are used, or could be used by different knowledge users.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee we can help you learn how to use LinkedIn for KT, or help you advance your existing social media strategy, contact the KT Core!

What is a Twitter chat? How can I facilitate one?

by Isaac Coplan (KT Coordinator)

Twitter_logo_blue

A Twitter chat is a live chat event on twitter. It is organized using a unique hashtag that can then be tracked to understand the level of participation. A facilitator asks a series of questions (usually 6) during a pre-scheduled time period (usually lasting an hour). This allows participants to either follow along, or read a transcript at a later date.

“Imagine a business networking event—but without a dress code and with a keyboard instead of a bar. The same social customs apply—courtesy and respect—and it’s a great way to meet new people with similar interests. There are Twitter chats in almost every industry imaginable.” –Nicole Miller of BufferApp (Twitter Chat 101).

Benefits of using a Twitter chat:

  • Introduces real time interaction between stakeholders and researchers, service providers and/or policy makers
  • Connects people with similar interests online, growing your social network
  • Provides a platform for communication that can be saved, measured, and referred to in the future
  •  Allows people to participate from across the country
  • Can work well as one part of an integrated KT strategy by focusing on engagement, feedback and dissemination to a wide audience at a relatively low cost

On November 18, 2014, we worked with CanChild to host a Twitter chat leading up to their family engagement day. Here is the process that we used, organized by approximate time periods.

A successful Twitter chat can be organized over a few weeks.

Three weeks before:

  • Choose an original Hashtag: This can be done by searching on Twitter. Try and keep the hashtag as short as possible, without using one that is already in use. Try searching the hashtag on Google first, to make sure that there aren’t any other connotations to the abbreviation.
  • Determine a way to collect metrics: Symplur.com allows for a free service that can provide detailed metrics for Twitter chat related to health. However, registration can take a number of weeks; register at least 2-3 weeks in advance.

Two Weeks Before:

  • Write questions: Typically Twitter chats last for approximately One hour with a question every 10 minutes. Key participants can be provided with the questions in advance, however typically they are not made public until the event.
  • Select Facilitator: The role of the facilitator is to keep the chat moving, and to make sure that questions are being answered in the correct format (this makes it easier for people who want to follow along on the transcript afterwards).
  • Choose platform for Twitter chat: tchat.io is one that the KT Core have used in the past. Platforms automatically type in the designated hashtag, and focus only on content related to the chat. There are several other examples – and participants may opt to follow along on Twitter.
  • Begin publicizing the Twitter chat through social networks. This should include a brief description of the topic, the hashtag, the time and date.

At the event:

  • The Facilitator welcomes participants, and asks them to introduce themselves. This allows others to have a good understanding of who’s involved in the event. The facilitator keeps the conversation on track by asking questions in a timely manner.
  • Questions should be asked using the following format:

NDN KT

  • While Answers are formatted in the following way:

NDN KT2

Facilitators can remind, or inform, participants of the format. This makes it easier for people to follow along by reading the transcript in the future.

After the Event:

The facilitator can create a transcript using Symplur or another platform. In addition, it is also possible to gather metrics that include impressions, participant and reach. You can easily see how many people participated and how many people viewed tweets related to the Twitter chat.

What did the metrics tell us?

In the CanChild Twitter chat there were 41 Participants from across Canada. The posts were viewed 109,351 times (Impressions). Throughout the day of the chat, 344 Tweets Sent. – 268 of those sent during the 1 hour chat.

Twitter chats have the opportunity to quickly engage a large number of people on a specific content matter, and can increase engagement with individuals, organizations or researchers who may otherwise not be able to attend.

Follow NeuroDevNet’s  KT Core on Twitter: @NeuroDevNetKT

Follow NeuroDevNet on Twitter: @NeuroDevNet

See a transcript of the Twitter chat Hosted by NeuroDevNetKT and CanChild #CanChildKT

For more information on how to hose a Twitter chat see:

Steve Cooper’s (Forbes) Ultimate Guide to hosting a Tweet chat

Nicole Miller’s (BufferApp) Twitter Chats 101

For more understanding of how this fits in with a family engagement strategy see “What are some of the ways Neurodevnet is supporting family engagement.”
If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee, or if you represent one of Canada’s NCEs and would like to know more about NeuroDevNet’s KT Core services please visit our website and/or contact the KT Core.

What is Social Media & Where to Start?

KTsocialmediaguidepdf

Blog post by:  Isaac Coplan, @neurodevnetkt

The KT Core has produced a new resource for NeuroDevNet researchers and trainees, referred to as the social media “guide of guides”. It is the newest addition to our collection of KT Tools that we feature on the NeuroDevNet Website. It is an annotated bibliography of the best and most applicable published guides for researchers to “do KT” for their research.

Starting to use social media for Knowledge Translation can be overwhelming, especially for busy researchers who are not familiar with social media and who might not see the value of it for dissemination and stakeholder engagement. Indeed, a simple Google search will result in a large number of articles, blogs and websites that promise to direct you on how to start. Many of them charge money for unnecessary programs or services related to social media– and few are directly related to KT. Before I began my position as KT Coordinator with NeuroDevNet, Krista Jensen (of the York University Knowledge Mobilization Unit) and Elle Seymour (former KT Coordinator, NeuroDevNet) had conducted a search and narrowed them down to the top guides. I was happy to help finalize the guide and organized them from guides targeted at the beginner level to more advanced levels.

Our “guide of guides” begins with a section that explains the value of social media for researchers, for KT purposes and organizes the guides reviewed into several other sections:

Why use social media?

Planning & Strategic Social Media Guides

Advanced resources, metrics and tools for measuring social media reach           

While social media is certainly transforming the way that information is viewed, communicated and shared it isn’t necessarily making these processes simple. Social media requires planning – and for more complex strategies, can require designated staff. If you are beginning to use social media – you may be curious about how it has helped researchers with KT. The first section “Why use social media?” provides links and useful annotations to a variety of resources. This can provide you with initial push to start thinking about social media and answer some of your questions about why researchers use different platforms. Another example of how this guide may be used, is if there is a researcher who connects with people online, but hasn’t started thinking about social media strategically. The “Planning & Strategic Social Media Guides” section has resources that will help you move from a casual social media user – to a more strategic user. The final section “Advanced resources, metrics and tools for measuring social media reach” looks at tools that can provide you with more advanced thinking on social media. The guides in this section cover topics such as tracking research, reach of your social media channels and  data visualization.

Overall- there are many advantages to social media use by researchers – one of the overarching benefits is the number of people that are now using social media regularly, which means the number of stakeholders that can be reached in this way by researchers is also greater. These stakeholders include: researchers from institutions around the world, mainstream media, research networks, non-profit organizations, community organizations, health care institutions, government offices and education institutions from most of the world to name a few.

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This guide is a good reference for researchers and trainees who want to start using social media for KT. If you are a researcher/trainee and already using social media, you can use the more advanced guides referenced in this “guide of guides” in order to approach social media more strategically. Social media doesn’t have to be mystical – these guides can help you.

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee we can help you learn how to use social media for KT, or help you advance your existing strategy, contact the KT Core!

What are some of the ways the KT Core is supporting “family engagement” in research?

by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet

Diverse stakeholders participate in CanChild's 25th anniversary Family Engagement Day

Diverse stakeholders participate in CanChild’s 25th anniversary Family Engagement Day

On November 22nd, 2014 CanChild celebrated its 25th anniversary with a day-long stakeholder meeting located in the student centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. There were 65 professionals, 69 family members (adults) and 33 children/youth.  NeuroDevNet’s KT Core was invited to participate by attending the event and staffing a NeuroDevNet booth. CanChild is part of NeuroDevNet’s Community for Brain Development and NeuroDevNet was one of the sponsors of this event.

 

Director of CanChild, Dr. Jan Willem Gorter says:

“It is only through true partnership and engagement of children, youth and families, health care providers, and anyone else in the lives  of children with disabilities that we can make meaningful progress in the field of neurodevelopmental disabilities.  NeuroDevNet sponsored the live streaming of the event with a world-wide reach. The day has been recorded and will posted on the CanChild website.”

During the event, participants contributed to inform research by posting thoughts and ideas on large pink sticky notes on the wall, active discussion in small break out groups, and finally a large report-back discussion.

Stakeholders had the opportunity to share ideas about how to improve family engagement in research

Stakeholders had the opportunity to share ideas about how to improve family engagement in research

Anneliese Poetz, Isaac Coplan NeuroDevNet's KT Core participate in CanChild's Family Engagement Day

Anneliese Poetz, Isaac Coplan NeuroDevNet’s KT Core participate in CanChild’s Family Engagement Day

The small break out groups each had a focus question based on some aspect of research or knowledge translation and a graduate student volunteer note-taker who recorded the main points of the discussion.

Afterwards, participants were treated to a live-band performance by Justin Hines (vocals) and Ash & Bloom (guitar and backup vocals).

Poster Session set up near booth displays

Poster Session set up near booth displays

Isaac Coplan engaging with stakeholders at NeuroDevNet booth

Isaac Coplan engaging with stakeholders at NeuroDevNet booth

Finally, the poster- and booth-display session ended the day.  Isaac Coplan and Anneliese Poetz were visited by approximately 25 parents, practitioners and self-advocates at the NeuroDevNet booth.

 

 

Visitors to the NeuroDevNet booth scan QR code to retrieve .pdf of ResearchSnapshot

Visitors to the NeuroDevNet booth scan QR code to retrieve .pdf of ResearchSnapshot

The ResearchSnapshots were popular, and the laminated copies we brought for the booth included a QR code that linked to the original .pdf online as well as a bitly link that takes you to the webpage containing all the ResearchSnapshots in a particular category (such as CP, ASD, etc.). One visitor to the booth said that if she had had a ResearchSnapshot of the peer-reviewed papers she had to read in her college program called “Autism and Behavioural Science” it would have motivated her to read the entire 30 page paper that the ResearchSnapshot was based on. Others said it was great to see just the important information about current research. One person who stopped by the booth said she was a psychiatrist and would bring some NeuroDevNet brains (stamped with the NeuroDevNet website url) back to her class that she teaches at her university’s medical school.

We got some good ideas for engaging families in research from a participant from Bloorview, such as the suggestion that we should consider having a section on our website listing all current NeuroDevNet studies the way Bloorview does on its “Participate in Research” tab. Overall, the booth was successful at raising awareness among current and future practitioners about NeuroDevNet and its research.

The KT Core also coordinated and facilitated a tweetchat in collaboration with CanChild on November 18th, 2014 as a way to generate online family engagement prior to the in-person event. There were 17 participants, 268 tweets and 71,894 impressions (possible reach based on size of networks of tweetchat participants).  Some participants were parents and we had some good discussion about family engagement in research.

Questions for the 1-hour tweetchat included:

1) What does it mean to families to be ‘engaged’ in research?

2) How can we (researchers) do a better job of engaging families?

3) What strategies would you recommend to engage youth in research?

4) What supports/platforms/methods can facilitate family or youth engagement?

5) How does one measure the impact of family engagement?

6) What are your experiences of being engaged (or engaging) in research?

The entire transcript is available online as well as additional statistics.

The KT Core can set up and staff a NeuroDevNet booth at your KT event, and can help you set up and facilitate a tweetchat for stakeholder engagement to obtain input/feedback on your research. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you, contact the KT Core.