“Thanks for the reminder – much appreciated!”

31 out of 40 workshop organizers prefer quick reminders two days before a deadline – or so my learning from last week tells me.

In preparation for a week of ‘Learning Opportunities’ during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, October 2008, I am in regular contact with 40+ organizers of workshops. All are busy people in jobs spread worlwide, offering to share their skills and build the capacities of others to use them.

Over the course of the remaining 4 months – as we put together an online application system for participants, prepare the official Congress programme, develop detailed agendas, collect biographers and supporting materials and make these available on the web – there will be a lot of communication between us. I need to make sure that they continue to cooperate and make my life easy. And I need to help them to help me.

Last Friday was our second deadline (revised titles and session descriptions please). I sent out the request and some guidance two weeks ago. Little back by Wednesday, so I had a decision to make. Sit tight, wait and – come Friday evening – send emails chasing all those who had failed to reply with an impassioned plea and the threat of exclusion from the applicants system? OR a polite, ‘quick reminder’ that afternoon to those i’d not yet heard from. Needless to say, I chose the latter and happily, moments later, in came responses: “Thanks for the reminder – much appreciated!” By Friday evening all had come flooding in. The lesson: help people keep to agreements – it feels good all round.

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