Knowledge and Information / Pro-Poor Livestock

Participants give feedback on ILRI’s ‘livestock live talks’: Less frequent, more consistently memorable, please!

Livestock live talks seminar: Michael Blümmel

Michael Blümmel, an animal nutritionist at ILRI, gives the inaugural ‘livestock live talk’ seminar at ILRI, in Nairobi, in September 2012 (photo credit: ILRI/Muthoni Njiru).

Since September 2012, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has been hosting livestock live talks, a series of monthly seminars that address livestock-related matters, mobilize external as well as in-house expertise and audiences and engage the livestock community around interdisciplinary conversations. The series aims to ask hard questions and to help refine concepts and practices in livestock research for development.

After eight seminars, the group of ILRI seminar organizers asked their audience for feedback about what they thought about the new series.

Who participated in the survey?

64 respondents filled out the survey. 77% filled it out entirely, with 46% of them women. Most of the respondents (71%) were from Nairobi, with 17% from Addis Ababa, 3% from South Africa, 1%  from West Africa. Most respondents were ILRI staff, although a few represented CGIAR centres and other livestock and agricultural organizations. 45% of the respondents were scientists, 25% directly supported research in some way and 30% provided other kinds of institutional support.

Survey results

How do you want the seminars to be announced?

85% of the respondents preferred email invitations, while 60% said an invite posted on the ILRI Clippings Blog or on Yammer (ILRI’s intranet conversation site) was better. More than 4 out of 5 respondents (83%) liked the way the seminars are promoted.

Why you don’t attend the seminars regularly?

Staff cited lack of time and being away on mission travels; some find the seminars too technical or some of the topics too distant from their interests.

What were the top three (most interesting) seminars?

The deadly gifts of livestock by ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace (85% said they appreciated it), Livestock and mobile technology by Nairobi entrepreneur Su Kahumbu (48% of the participants said they loved it; 66% appreciated it) and Livestock and global change by ILRI agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero (72.5% said they appreciated it; 30% loved it).

Did you follow the invitations and documentation of the seminars?

41% of the participants followed the seminar discussions and analysis on the ILRI news blog, 32% followed Yammer notices about the seminars, 23% read and downloaded the seminar presentations on Slideshare, 18% listened to the streamed recording and 11% recommended these materials to others. Nearly 20% reported not having seen any of these outputs.

Should we continue with the seminars?

54% of the respondents preferred to keep the seminars as they were (monthly), 23%  said they’s like them to be less frequent, and 18% thought they should be more frequent.

How can we improve the seminars?

Most respondents prefer a mix of different kinds of speakers, with more external experts, boundary partners, research beneficiaries, social scientists, policymakers, and others likely to give more unconventional talks. Participants said they’d like to see more interactive seminars, better facilitation, livelier speakers, and more creativity and innovation in the presentations themselves.

‘The frequency of these talks belittles them’, one respondent commented. Although most respondents want to keep the current monthly frequency, some believe reducing the frequency to bi-monthly or quarterly presentations would improve the quality of the series.

On ideas for possible future seminars, survey participants cited topics such as the role of value chain analysis; examples of capacity and partnership development; animal genetics; a focus on women, youth and other marginalized groups; climate change scenarios; and lessons learnt from CGIAR research programs.

Using the feedback

The small livestock live talk organizing team, headed by Ewen Le Borgne and comprising Tadellie Dessie, Angeline Nekesa, Tezira Lore, Silvia Silvestri, Vish Nene and Susan MacMillan, is working to improve the seminars based on this feedback from the seminar survey. They are working with ILRI management and senior staff to get them attending the seminars more regularly and leading some of them. Other plans under way: reducing the frequency of the seminars so as to have more time to make each more memorable, getting more diverse and lively / engaging speakers, reaching out to ILRI’s younger and newer staff, and making good use of the greatly improved audio-video facilities planned for both ILRI’s Addis and Nairobi campuses this year.

The seminar organiziers thank all those who took the time to complete the survey. Stay in touch and stay in seminar mode!

Read the Livestock Live Talk survey summary

Livestock live talks

All ILRI staff, partners and donors, and interested outsiders are invited to these institutional seminars. Those non-staff wanting to come, please contact Nancy Moss at n.moss[at] (or via ILRI switchboard 422-3000) to let her know. If you would like to give one of these seminars, or have someone you would like to recommend, please contact Silvia Silvestri at s.silvestri[at] (or via ILRI switchboard 422-3000).

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