Thursday, 22 September 2011

Thing 15 part 3 - Top tips for organising events

Day 88: Event organiser survival pack
Event organiser's survival kit

I've only fairly recently starting organising events, but I really enjoy it. I helped organise a local debate on behalf of CILIP West Midlands, organised our annual Member's Day and AGM earlier this year, and a hustings event for the CILIP election last year which we livestreamed.

I've developed a number of new skills in this process, and honed my organisation skills. There's a lot of elements to co-ordinate and different groups of people to organise; speakers, attendees, sponsors, and members of the organising team (if you're lucky!).

Here are some of my top tips for organising events:
  • Contact speakers to discuss ideas as early as possible and to check their availability.
  • Check out a variety of different venues and use any contacts you or any of the other organisers have - maybe you could get a free/reduced rate through your workplace or your contacts?
  • Begin publicising the event early (this way you may start to generate interest even if you're not yet ready to take bookings).
  • Provide clear information about the event when publicising (including a simple, descriptive title) - you don't want people to be disappointed to discover it's not what they hoped it was.
  • Provide information to help attendees (and their managers) understand the learning outcomes of the event.
  • Use multiple channels to promote the event to your target audience - face to face, website, email and social media.
  • Offer a number of options for payment from attendees (cash, cheque, online payment, invoice) to cover both personal and institutional payment methods.
  • Think about amplifying the event outside physical constraints (if appropriate). You might want to consider asking people to blog/tweet about the event.
  • If you're planning to encourage people to tweet about the event, establish a hashtag (preferably a short but distinctive one) and include it in all promotion.
  • Look after your speakers and delegates. It's really important not to let any frustrations or mini disasters show to attendees - I always try to aspire to be like a swan; calm and serene at the surface, panicking and frantically organising underneath. 

What next?

Well, I'm currently helping organise quite a few things for CILIP West Midlands, and I also hope to organise some events for Evidence Base (my workplace) soon. We're a small team and have been focusing on project work for the last year, but I'd definitely like to get some events organised for the library community. I've got so many ideas but I'm not sure what to prioritise - what would you like an event on?

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