What’s in a name? Well, in the case of the name “colloquium” it can be the neutralizing factor that sets the stage for diverse stakeholders, sometimes with opposing views, to discuss topics in a collegial manner.
Stemming from the Latin word “colloqu,” meaning discussion or conversation, a colloquium is defined by Collins English Dictionary as: an informal gathering for discussion or an academic seminar. Unlike a traditional conference with primarily one-way communication lectures, this type of seminar encourages participants to discuss specific topics, advance ideas and share information in a fairly interactive way.
This format is frequently used for academic initiatives. We have however found it ideal for bringing industry, academia and the general public together to collaborate on solutions to a shared challenge.
Most recently, we worked with the Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) on a colloquium for like-minded energy sector workers, researchers, academics and community members to brainstorm how power plants can enhance their ecological footprint. The one-day event attracted a broad mix of stakeholders and featured numerous presentations delivered live, as well as by web conferencing from utilities and researchers. Between presentations, HSAL facilitated round-table and open discussions for delegates to share insights about ecological sustainability practices and how energy sector employees can partner with local communities to implement them.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive with most participants stating it exceeded expectations and noting the virtues of the discussion component. What’s more, the event gave the PEC a list of community-driven ideas and case studies for future consideration.
As business and industry discovers the benefit of turning to their communities for input on topics and challenges with ramifications beyond their boardroom walls, we suspect colloquiums may grow in popularity.
Contact us if you’d like to discuss how a colloquium or other strategic approaches can engage your community and bring you closer to constructive solutions and win-win outcomes.
Leslie Hetherington is Communications Director at Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited. She is an award-winning, Accredited PR Practitioner (APR) and a past president of the Toronto chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Leslie’s project experience includes integrated communications planning and implementation through traditional and online channels for diverse mandates, from managing reputations to stimulating economic development in Canada’s North. Skills include stakeholder and media relations, social media marketing, website development, event management and copy writing.