Our partnership and training officer Sirea Jabar, has put together a series of top tips from her own experience of organising and hosting events to help others in organising their own.
“I know how daunting it can be thinking about organising your own local event – I recently became Target Housing’s key contact for our partnership work with the Frontline Network and I organised my first Frontline Network event in South Yorkshire.I learnt a lot and I thought it was worth sharing those lessons, and setting out my top tips for organising a successful local event, based on my own experience.
1. Decide a theme I looked back over earlier feedback and themed the event around what people had asked for at previous events. I also considered what topics would be relevant to all the organisations planning to attend. Deciding on a theme made it easier to choose which speakers I wanted at the event.
2. Select the speakers I used my networks to source potential speakers. This wasn’t easy as people were busy and had different availability. But I emailed potential speakers with details of what I was looking for and asked if they would be interested in speaking.
3. Set an early date I set the date as soon as I received confirmation from the speakers, so people were given enough notice and could put it into their diaries.
4. Develop a structured and varied programme I gave a lot of thought to developing a structured programme, with proper timings, and I ensured it was varied – we had guest speakers with presentations, workshop activities, information exchange (where people could bring along promotional material from their organisations to facilitate networking and information sharing), and tools to capture delegate ideas and feedback throughout the day.
5. Choose a good venue I asked a range of people, including colleagues and other professionals, for recommendations and I went to view them. I had key criteria – size, parking, accessibility, catering. I found a very good venue, arranged to meet the manager, and agreed a reasonable cost which even included free use of the laptop and projector. I explained what I wanted in terms of the layout of the room, the times we would need the room for (including set-up time), and confirmed everything on a booking form.
6. Have a range of food options The venue had a preferred supplier so I used them. But I only confirmed our food order when I had a good idea of the numbers of people attending, and I ensured we had plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
7. Promote and publicise your event I started promoting the event via email around 8 weeks before the event. I advertised the event through our Voluntary Action Rotherham weekly bulletin which reaches all voluntary sector organisations in Rotherham. And I attended a range of meetings/events where I promoted the event and the Frontline Network. This all helped to raise the profile of the event and increased the number of people aware of the event and interested in attending.
8. Know how many people are coming and plan accordingly I included a booking form so people had to book in advance and I had a good idea of the number of people attending, and could plan accordingly in terms of venue and catering.
9. Have delegate packs I put together delegate packs which included a programme, a Frontline Network leaflet, my business card, a list of useful links, an evaluation sheet and a pen.
10. Build in reflection time and proper evaluation processes I allowed time after the event to reflect with others on what went well and what worked. And I had feedback and evaluation forms available at the event, and after the event. I carried out a full evaluation so I could make improvements for future events, based on people’s feedback.”