Tips for planning programme content

The aim of this manual is to support the planning of dynamic event content that speaks to the target audience. Key to this is a well-designed script that supports the achievement of the event’s goals. Towards the end of the document, there are examples of different types of programme structures.

To begin with, a reminder of the Think Corner mission: Think Corner is a street-level arena for popularising science, with the goal of being easily approachable, open and relaxed. Let’s forget about unnecessary formalities and lecturing. Instead, let's stimulate, enjoy, gain insights and issue challenges together. Topics can push the limits and big questions can be creatively dramatised. The best discussions stem from the collision of different viewpoints. Let's keep events interesting and boldly bring different topics to the fore!

For whom and why? Often, you may have more than one target group in mind, but have the courage to pick only the one that is clearly the most important, and on whose terms you will design the event. At times, reaching different target groups in one go by organising an event is impossible. If you are planning an event for what is known as the general public, but, at the same time, you would also like to reach experts, the behaviour and needs of these two groups are so different that you have to clearly choose a specific target group. Events at Think Corner are held in two-hour slots, and a relatively short format is a better way to reach large audiences and stakeholders for whom the content must be concise.

How do you attract your target group? Come up with a creative title and formulate an attractive content commitment. We are continuously competing for attention with the factual and entertainment content offered in various places. See tips for event marketing before, during and after events. Think about what kind of succinct viewpoint would arouse the interest of the event’s potential participants and make them tweet about it, as well as what would make journalists write about it.

What kind of a memory imprint do you wish to leave for the audience? Step into the shoes of a person representing the target group: if they have a little over an hour to give their attention to an event, what points should be conveyed to them? What is the audience’s level of knowledge, what do you wish the audience to remember from the event and how will you utilise the time available as effectively as possible to achieve this goal? Limit the number and scope of the topics to be discussed and take advantage of the event title in consolidating the memory imprint.

A script is the foundation on which the programme is built. At its best, the programme constitutes relaxed but also efficiently facilitated and in-depth discussion. A script sets up the programme framework and outlines the content in a format that speaks to the audience. The script helps to stay on schedule, brief the speakers and ensure that everything relevant is said and discussed. Remember to leave room for changes in the script, since events never take place without some adjustments.

From start to finish, the presenter ensures that the thread running through the programme is not lost. The presenter establishes the mood of the event as well as sees to the achievement of the goals set for the event and that the programme progresses on schedule. The presenter represents the audience and plays a key role in how the content is discussed in a way that is understandable and interesting to the target audience.

Journalist presenters are usually adept at controlling live stage events and meeting the requirements of multimedia productions. They can also be delegated the responsibility to develop a more detailed event script, interview the speakers in advance and do preparatory work related to the content. In any event, the presenter too needs a preliminary script draft from the event organiser.

Tips for preparing a script

1. Main goal of the event
Start by considering the most important thing you wish to offer your audience. What will they gain, at the very least, from the event? Distil this into a single sentence and keep it in mind throughout the process. Make sure that the event title and other marketing are promoting the same thing. Also think about whether the primary purpose of your event is to

A) Convey information – For example, An easy-to-understand info package on what you need to know about artificial intelligence right now to be able to follow the related public discussion

OR

B) Make different perspectives, ideas and scientific fields collide – For example, engendering new ideas and insights on the stage; The event considers what happens when artificial intelligence and algorithms are used as part of decision-making

This decision affects the structure and shape of the event.

2. Audience’s level of knowledge
Next, consider whether discussing your topic makes it necessary to first provide the audience with brief basics on the topic, or whether concepts used in the discussion need to be explained. Remember that the last time certain audience members from different fields may have been in contact with your topic could have been when they were in comprehensive school, if at all. In other words, take care not to lose anyone's attention right from the get-go.

3. Subtopics
Next, list which perspectives or approaches should be applied to the main topic in addition to the info package, if one is included in the programme. Come up with subtopics for your script.

A) Examples: “Can AI be creative?”, “What do AI and human intelligence have in common?”, “What’s next in AI development?”

B) Examples: “How is AI already utilised in decision-making?”, “Should the use of AI be regulated?”, “How might the use of AI in decision-making affect people and societies?”

In addition to subtopics, consider which fields’ or groups’ perspectives on the topic would be interesting and distinct from each other, especially in the case of type B events.

4. Choosing speakers
Next, consider who would best represent each subtopic (event type A), or field or perspective (event type B). Individual speakers can, of course, represent several perspectives, but two proponents of the same view should not be invited to the same event. For example, discussion on the use of artificial intelligence in decision-making is more interesting when the parties involved include a computer scientist, a cultural scholar and a legal scholar. Rely on this plan when booking speakers for your event.

Limit the number of speakers to a maximum of five in order to keep the content compact, the conversation smooth and clear for the viewer.

5. Structure
Next is the structure of the event. In type A events, which are aimed at conveying information, the best way is often to examine individual subtopics through separate presentations or individual interviews. In contrast, type B events require discussion where the speakers take the stage together to exchange opinions. There is also room for alternatives that combine elements from both: for example, each speaker is first interviewed or gives a presentation individually, after which they can continue discussing the topic together. In addition to a basic structure, events can utilise various elements that divide it into sections: video inserts (e.g., an informational video describing a difficult topic or a video interview that brings a new perspective into the discussion), photographs or infographics prepared in advance. If you wish to engage the audience, you can request questions from them during or even before the event, for example, in a Facebook event or on Twitter, and include them in the script.

6. Final script
Once you have taken care of the above elements, you can leave the more detailed script to the professional presenter. If you are the presenter, write detailed presentations and consider potential interview questions for each subtopic. To avoid getting caught by surprise on stage, you should go over the topics to be discussed in the event in advance with the speakers. They will also provide you with tips on what to ask them. Schedule the script minute by minute, as it will also help you draw up stage directions.

Video examples

Below are two different ways to design an AI-themed event to be held at Think Corner. Please note that the events are based on multi-camera recording, which enables switching between different aspect ratios and angles. Think Corner’s services include streaming with a single camera. Additional services, such as multi-camera shoots, can be purchased through Unigrafia.

Example A: AI Today (event is in Finnish, "Tekoäly nyt")

Watch video

Structure:

  • 3 min Introduction: Establishes the mood, describes the gist of the event
  • 15 min Speaker 1 in an interview on two topics
    • Basic information for the audience: What is artificial intelligence?
    • Can AI be creative?
  • 15 min Speaker 2 in an interview: What do AI and human intelligence have in common?
  • 10 min Speaker 3 gives a presentation: An example of what’s next in AI development
  • 10 min Speaker 3 in an interview: In-depth discussion of the previous topic
  • 20 min All three speakers on stage responding to questions from the audience and those submitted in advance
  • 1 min Concluding thanks

Example B: AI Decides (event is in Finnish, "Tekoäly päättää")

Watch video

Structure:

  • 30 sec Introduction: Establishes the mood, describes the gist of the event
  • 7 min Speaker 1 in an interview that explains the relevant concepts
  • 65 min Speakers 1, 2 and 3 in a discussion on three themes:
    • How is AI already utilised in decision-making?
    • Should the use of AI be regulated?
    • How might the use of AI in decision-making affect people and societies?
  • 30 sec Concluding thanks