Knitted human beings and hopeless publicity

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I have come across for the first time the Mother Nature Network and what do I find. Here is a Finnish artist Liisa Hietanen. who goes the extra mile in creating life-like models with a combination of crochet, knitting and embroidery. Read the article here.

I am a member of a smallish affiliation group that organizes conferences and lectures. For reasons that will become obvious, it will remain nameless. The people have organized a series of three talks to take place in Scotland and in London and Somerset. Continuing my theme of  Leaflet design I want to talk little bit about content. The following information should be on it.

  1. The title of the event, what it is, and three or four words if it is not immediately obvious.
  2. Where the event will take place. That may seem superfluous to someone who lives in the Same town or city but not helpful for a stranger especially when there is no postcode.
  3. The starting and ending time. When the doors open.
  4. The speaker or entertainer and his or her qualifications.
  5. What type of refreshments will be provided
  6. the cost, how to get hold of tickets if they are required. Concession rates?
  7. An inquiry or contact number or details in case of confusion.

The problem is that in this case the author or the utterer is so familiar with the subject, and so enthusiastic about it, that minor details are not seen as important. SURELY if I just breathe a word, everyone will drop what they are doing and attend.

The absolute golden rule is:  design the leaflet including the detail. Show it to more than one person who has little knowledge of the subject and ask them if they would come. Listen to their feedback. Listen to things they say they cannot see or understand.  Guaranteed they will always spot something you had not thought of.

We all need to put ourselves in the shoes of those who will attend. One of the talks organised by my group has an advertised running time of 11am to 3pm.  This is most irregular. The conventional times are 10 to 3 or 10 to 4 or 5. 11am is half way through the morning. What happens? People will show up at say 10.50. The talk starts at 11am. Around 12.30 they need a break as they are hungry. If they have not bought sandwiches they will have to go off to the nearest eatery where they will probably  get caught up in conversation. It is no good the organiser saying ‘be back in half an hour’. I would be surprised if the meeting will restart before 1.45.

So you have instead of the four hours advertised, the speaker has 2.5 hours to deliver the message. If you are going to have a continuous session the least you need are refreshments and light finger food.  To make it worse, the high-powered speaking event is on a bank holiday Monday and if the weather is good it is most unlikely that people will want to attend any event indoors.

I am fairly well known in the group as a sometime curmudgeonly and analytical person. I do not particularly want to add to this reputation by pointing out the many mistakes that the organizer has made. In a way, it is not my business. I’m just one of the group, not an executive member, and I have never been asked for my opinion. My decision is that I will just keep quiet and let people learn their lessons.

In other words, I shall keep mum.

The word mum is one of the few that we can say for certain are onomatopoeic, which imitate or echo some sound. The sound in this case is the inarticulate murmur ‘mmmmm’, the only noise one can make when one’s mouth is kept firmly shut. The word has been recorded in English from the fourteenth century in various spellings but settled to its modern form in the sixteenth century.

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