As an organization which cares about helping people to collaborate there will be plenty of times when that is best done by getting people in the same room to meet face to face. This is a guide that will be useful for anyone who is organizing such events. It is by design made as a chronological guide in order to be followed and checked in to over time.
As early as possible
- Figure out the purpose of the event. Which are the goals that the organization is trying to achieve with this event? Make sure these are aligned with the overarching mission, founding principles and priorities. The goals will usually determine the intended participants. Think of how, after the event, you will measure or determine if these goals are accomplished.
- Appoint someone who is responsible for this particular event. Even though responsibilities might be delegated, it helps to be clear on who has authority to make decisions. This also reduces the risk that a task might be left undone.
- Decide on date and place for the event. Book the space as early as possible.
- Create internal awareness. In order to enable synergies, sharing the overall plans with the rest of the organization is important.
- As a team, consider how you’ll get longer term value from the event. Can you design reusable workshops, or film the talks so that people can access them later?
In the months and weeks leading up to the events
- Make a budget and get it approved by the chief executive.
- Order catering if needed. Check how late catering needs to have final numbers.
- If there are external speakers needed, book them. Make sure someone is responsible for arranging their travel and accommodation. Also, brief them on how long we would like them to speak, in what setting and with what aim. It might be helpful to get their presentation ahead of time (so that presentations can be played from one computer, which has been set up and tested with the projector).
- Book any other services needed, for example a videographer.
- Make sure you have access to all facilities you need, for example a building out of hours or on-street parking. If you’re having the event in the office, tell other building tenants and staff so they can plan around your event.
- Collaborate with the communications coordinator on how to communicate around this event. Create at least a rough communication plan aligned with the communication principles.
- Send out invitations or publish a sign-up page. Ask participants to tell you of any access needs or dietary requirements (if the event is catered). Make clear what the code of conduct is for the event. Note that photos will be taken at the event for distribution/reuse by us later; participants should let us know if they don’t want their photo taken.
- Collect a list of all supplies needed for the event and make sure these are stocked, for example name badges or sticky notes.
- Presenters should prepare their presentations - take the time to get these right.
The week before the event
- Make an hour by hour run script for the day where each task has someone assigned for it. Share this with everyone that has one or more tasks to prepare them.
- Finalize catering.
- Send an event reminder to participants or invitees. Include a detailed agenda and anything special they need to prepare or bring.
- Depending on how complex the event is, lead a walk through of the space and rooms for all staff involved, so everyone knows where things are and can answer attendees’ questions.
- Make sure presenters have practiced their presentations in front of a live audience for feedback.
The day before the event
- Make last printouts if needed.
- Prepare for any digital presentations by checking projector or screens.
The day of the event
- Put name badges, informational material (for example the WiFi details) and swag in strategic places.
- Have a security talk through.
- Have someone assigned to document the event with photos. Encourage others to also snap pictures.
- If it was not done in the invitation or through RSVP, ask for permission to share contact details of the participants with each other. Only use opt-in methods to be GDPR compliant.
The day after the event
- Clean up the events area (if not done the day of the event).
- Send a thank you email to the participants. Share the contact details of those who approved of it, and ask for feedback.
The week after the event
- Upload photos to some storage solution.
- Use the photos, along with text or quotes from the event on site, in the blog, or on social media.
- Process all expenses for the event.
- Do a retro of the event. If new things were learned, update this page. Assign other action points immediately so they are not lost.
- Example of an event logistics tracking spreadsheet (secret). Since this example contains names and email addresses, it can not be publicly shared.
This guide was inspired by Wikimedia Sverige’s checklist for annual gatherings.