RE: conference dates clashing w/ special religious days?

Subject: RE: conference dates clashing w/ special religious days?
From: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 08:40:34 -0500

Milan asked...

> Let's say a three-day tech comm conference (sometime
> Monday to Friday) is to be planned for sometime Jan -
> June 06. You'd like to know what days on various
> religious calendars might prevent potential attendees
> from coming.
> Just looking at web pages doesn't necessarily give a
> sense of which ones are important enough to the people
> who may observe them to keep them from coming.
> If you belong to a faith and observe religious
> occasions during the target period that would keep you
> from going to a conference, can you drop me a line and
> tell me about it. Online replies may be of interest to
> other event planners; offline replies from those of
> you who think this is OT would also be appreciated.
> Thanks.


First of all I recognize you may be asking this for two reasons--either
you're considering declining attending a conference because it conflicts
with your personal faith, or you have been given a potential date for
organizing a conference that conflicts with an important religious
holiday. So understand that my comments are directed at the organizing
body of such a hypothetical conference that fits the description you

This is a case where _you_ as the conference organizer need to put your
TW skills to practice. Namely, "know your audience." That is to say,
know the predominant religions of the nation or region where your
conference is to be held (presumably that is where your attendees will
be coming from) and just "don't do it." Don't schedule anything that
conflicts with a major religious holiday observed in the host country or
region: Passover, Ramadan, Easter, Yom Kippur, Christmas, Kwanza,
(apologies that I don't know the names of important Hindu or Bhuddist

You don't need to _ask_ your attendees what religion they
practice--quite frankly it's not important or relevant to a professional
conference. But you must _respect_ all your potential attendees as
though they are devout practitioners of one of the world's major
religions, and you must be sensitive to the ones that will affect the
most people in the area where you are holding your conference. Failure
to do so will just make you look either stupid or insensitive to your
intended audience--and you need to consider how that makes people feel
about the quality of the information you would present.

Bottom line: don't ask people to make a choice--because if they _are_
devout you will always lose. Period. There's nothing you can sell at a
professional conference (in any profession) that is more important to a
devout believer than his or her faith; furthermore, as important as you
might think you or your sponsoring organization are, you're not going to
present any material that can't be studied from one of a thousand web
sites, heard at one of dozens of conferences, read in one of a score of
publications, or discussed in one of hundreds of newslists like

And don't forget there are parts of the world where if you blatantly
organize events that fly in the face of religious custom, somebody may
come to arrest the organizers and attendees, or worse, park a car bomb
outside the convention hall to teach you a lesson about the importance
of religion in the local culture.

Just use a little common sense and you won't have a problem.

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