ALT (LTG-M25): My First Experience of Hosting and Planning an Event

Earlier this year, I joined the steering committee for the M25 region of the Association for Learning Technology and I volunteered to host the summer meeting. Organising the event was pretty stressful but really rewarding. In this blog post, I share my experiences of organising the event.

So I was hoping I’d be able to host the event at one of the four Inns’ of court, but it turned out that there would be a charge for the venue, so that idea quickly went out of the window. I ended up hosting the event at the Bar Adjudication and Tribunal Suite at Gray’s Inn. While not as large as one of the Inns’ training suites, it had everything we needed and I was able to use both rooms on the day (one room for presenting and one room for lunch). Approval for the venue came a bit late, which put me a month behind schedule in planning everything. As it was my first go at organising an event, there was a bit of a learning curve. The steering committee did have a pretty comprehensive guide which really helped – advice and guidance were also provided by the other members of the steering committee!

However, This event was a bit different to the others. The LTG meeting and the Moodle Users Group Greater London (MUGGL) meeting were scheduled back-to-back, which added a layer of logistical complexity. I had to ensure room availability for the whole day and manage potential overcrowding since not everyone registered for both events. Luckily it all worked out well and we had even numbers for both sessions.

Apart from the venue, my responsibilities also included email communications, coordinating with presenters, creating an event agenda and setting up the live stream. The theme of the event was “Summer Fruits”, which invited participants to share the fruits of their labour (I know it’s a bit cheesy!). Six presentations took place, and I compiled all the slides into a single deck to try to avoid technical hiccups.

I arranged catering from Paul to arrive in the afternoon. It has a great selection of sandwich platters and an afternoon tea with proper jam and cream! There was a very small amount of leftover food which was distributed to anyone who wanted it. The vegan sandwiches were surprisingly unpopular…(although they were really tasty).

In terms of supplies, I purchased paper plates, napkins, milk, coffee, and squash. The venue supplied hot water, tea, and sugar. I had volunteers from both sessions to help set up the room, and post-event drinks were arranged at a local pub. The event ended on time, albeit at the cost of one 15-minute break.

There was unfortunately one casualty, a table, which decided to buckle and fall apart into pieces when it was being moved back to its position at the end of the meeting. Apart from that, it went well.

After the event I downloaded the zoom recording and arranged for it to be uploaded to the ALT YouTube channel (the ALT did this for me). I then sent a final email out via the Jisc group with the presentation slides and the link to watch the recording.

Summary

The main things I learned from the event….

  • Always test IT equipment beforehand. The PowerPoint setup was a bit tricky to set up and the first two presentations weren’t displayed correctly for the Zoom attendees.
  • Ask for in-person and online attendees to register for the event. This will not only help manage in-person numbers but also allow better follow-up with online participants.
  • Review the content of the presentations and allocate lots of time for discussions. While I let presenters dictate the discussion duration and pencilled this into the agenda, most presentations required more time for Q&A. It’s a balancing act to avoid either cutting discussions short or having too much empty time.
  • Remember to thank your presenters and volunteers – I forgot to do this at the end, but I did send a follow-up email!

In conclusion, I really enjoyed arranging the event, it was both challenging and rewarding ,as well as something a bit different from the day-to-day. However, it was quite time-consuming and stressful to make sure that everything ran smoothly, from managing the venue and attendee registration, coordinating presentations to ensuring everyone was fed. The experience taught me a lot and it felt like a good achievement – seeing everything come together, working with the others on the steering committee and meeting new people was well worth it.

If you’re interested in watching the event you can access the recording on YouTube:

M25 LTG Summer Meeting 2023

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