Submit Your Ideas for Creating a Participant-Focused Experience at the Social Finance Forum 2015

June 29, 2015

Social Finance Forum 2015: Unplugged

MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is gearing up to bring together the best and brightest in social finance for the 8th annual Social Finance Forum, the place to engage and profile leaders in Canada’s diverse social finance scene and capture advancements from the world stage.

The Canadian social finance market place is bursting with talent and experience and MaRS is delighted to share with participants the opportunity to shape the Forum’s agenda. This year you are invited to apply to design and host a session at the 8th annual Social Finance Forum, on November 12th & 13th, 2015 in Toronto, Canada!

Submit your ideas for creating a participant-focused experience

Submissions are open until 5pm, July 31st, or until a great selection has been received.

So get your ideas in as, talented early birds get the worm! Keep your eyes on and we will keep you informed as to what ideas are emerging. We encourage collaboration where synergies exist and may introduce you to session hosts who have submitted an idea that could work with yours.


You are encouraged to put some serious time into planning your session to ensure it’s participant led and a rich experience for all those involved. To this end here are a few suggestions you might want to follow to ensure your workshop is a success:

Avoid all PowerPoint presentations and podium presentations. Really! At all costs. Just delete these from your repertoire, no matter how tempting it is to fall back on these old “tried and tested” methods. They’ve been tried and they’ve been found wanting…

Ask questions – don’t make statements. Benjamin Franklin famously said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. Clearly, for the majority of conferences these words are not famous enough. Follow them and you won’t go wrong.

Mix it up. Different people learn differently. There are seven main learning styles but don’t get caught up in the details. If you can plan so that people can learn by listening, and by interacting with others, and in some way visually then you’ve covered the three main learning styles. Think about it and plan to cover these bases and your participants will walk away with more than you or they bargained for.

Be irreverent. It’ll make your session memorable. People too often confuse serious with sombre. We can be deadly serious but still enjoy ourselves. You can lay off the bad dad jokes but have a go at lightening up the subject matter. Be self-deprecating, don’t deprecate others. And OK, tell a bad joke if it’s relevant – what could possibly go wrong?

Be passionate. You are running a session at the Social Finance Forum for a reason, right? Tell people why. Show them. Passion and commitment are contagious.

Good luck. Actually no – it’s not about luck – it’s about planning and thinking about how to place our wonderful participants at the centre of your session. Go for it!