Here are some guidelines for planning public BAW programs.
Determine your target audience. Before developing programs about the brain, it is important to determine who you are trying to reach and why. Understand the needs and interests of your audience.  All aspects of event planning are contingent on this choice.
Select your topic. Your program will be most successful if the topic you choose is of direct benefit to your audience. Include information about local resources and services that will enable the audience to take advantage of the information they have received at your event.

If your topic is research- or science-based, be sure to accurately assess the scientific literacy of your target audience. The impact of your information will be weakened if it is either too complex or too simplistic for your audience.
Determine your staff needs. Do you have the staff needed to run a successful event, or do you need to recruit volunteers? Be sure to define roles and responsibilities so that staff and volunteers know what's expected of them.
Develop a budget for the event and plan accordingly.
Do you need to seek outside funding? If so consider the following:

  • Approach local businesses. They're often looking for ways to promote their involvement in the community and will provide financial assistance in exchange for their name or logo on publicity or promotional materials.
  • Don't forget about in-kind donations. Gifts of materials, services such as printing, or event space are very valuable. 

Collaborate with other organizations to reduce costs and share responsibilities. Combining resources may also help to attract larger audiences, obtain media coverage, and secure event space, speakers, and volunteers. 
Search the Partner List or contact the BAW Campaign Headquarters (, or (212) 401-1689) to identify other partners in your area with whom you might collaborate.
Select a format. Would your topic be better presented by a single presenter or a panel discussion? Do you want to have audience participation? Will your audience respond well to hands-on demonstrations, lab tours, or other forms of interactive activities such as questionnaires and quizzes?
Select a location. Keep the following in mind:

  • Does it work for the event format? Can it accommodate the audience?
  • Is there adequate parking and public transportation?
  • Is it geographically well situated for your intended audience?
  • Are there provisions for handicapped guests?
  • What are the electrical and audio-visual capabilities?
  • Can the venue provide additional staffing?  

Select a date/time.
The timing of the event should be determined by what is most appropriate for your target audience. For example, schedule family events for weekend afternoons; programs for students during the school day; and events for working professionals on weekday evenings. Before finalizing a date, don't forget to investigate other activities and events in your area that may attract the very same audience as your proposed program.
Select your speaker(s). Review your plans for audience, topic, location, timing and format with prospective speakers. Select a speaker with good “people” skills who can interact well with your audience.

Consider the following tips for finding a speaker(s):

  • Contact local medical college/university departments of cellular biology, neurology, neuroscience, neurosurgery, or psychiatry. Many scientists/physicians are happy to address lay audiences about their field of research.
  • Contact local hospitals and medical centers. Staff neurologists, psychiatrists, and physical and occupational therapists may be happy to speak to your group.
  • Search the Partner List for nearby BAW Partners who may have available speakers but limited public programming opportunities. Consider joint programs as a means to support both your efforts. The BAW Campaign Headquarters can provide you with detailed contact information. 

Work with your speaker(s)
to develop the content of the program and prepare them to speak on the audience’s level. The more precise you are about the interests of your audience and the message you wish to convey, the more effective your speaker(s) and program will be.

If you would like press coverage of your program, develop a media plan to identify your target media outlets and establish a schedule of communication. Fact sheets and press releases on your topic are often a useful tool for the media. For advice on media outreach, visit Working with the Media and Media Tools.
Plan for the day of the event. Things to think about in advance of your event include signage, hand-outs and materials, press participation, and audio visual needs.  Also, know where services are located at your event site, including toilets, handicapped facilities and access, elevators/stairs, emergency aid, and public transportation.
Allow time for follow-up. In addition to completing the administrative details of the event, it is important to “close out” your program properly.

  • Elicit comments and suggestions from your audience, and share any feedback with your speakers and co-sponsors.
  • Thank your speakers and co-sponsors/hosts (if any).
  • Prepare a brief summary of the event for your records and assess the program’s effectiveness in carrying your message to your target audience. This will help you and your organization plan for future activities.
  • Submit a partner report to share your experiences with other BAW Partners. 

Visit Suggested Activities for Brain Awareness Week 
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University of Wyoming. Wyoming, USA. BAW 2017.

University of Wyoming. Wyoming, USA. BAW 2017.


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