“Hi, I’d like to organize an event.”

It’s been a long while since I’ve last written a blog. Although not mandatory, I make it a point to blog my events whenever I can. I’ve got some amazing feedback from the community about how much some of my posts have helped them conduct events. Being a community builder, nothing made me more happier than this. People actually DO read my blog posts even though they are very big! Recently, I’ve been at the Portland Work week. I was a part of the Reps and the Community Building tracks. I met many amazing people from all over the world, interacted with them, brainstormed with them and got to learn about a lot of things. I had planned to use them all for an event recently and try some beta activities and starters. Although I very rarely make presentations for events, I did prepare one for this one. But yes, Murphy had his liking on me at that time and things that could go wrong, went wrong. But I must agree that I had the support of my mentors and the community members, without which, things would’ve been a lot tougher. I’ve been told that this never happened in any of the communities before. Or maybe it did and was not brought to anyone’s attention. Nevertheless, I decided to blog about this since this could be a learning experience for the community as a whole. They always say, we learn from our mistakes. I did too! A LOT! So this is a guideline I wrote. If you’re planning an event and want me to come over,  I would suggest you follow these. DISCLAIMER: The views and guidelines expressed in this post are that of my own and not of the community. Feel free to re blog this if you want. If you would like to refine this and add to this or want to pick on this, feel free to shoot me a mail. EVENT ORGANIZER: Who is an event organizer: An event organizer is generally a Mozillian/FSA who contacts an FSA/REP for a Mozilla event. This person is generally a point of contact in that area (which may comprise of a geologically, linguistically, or culturally different place). What the speaker or facilitator generally expects out of you: When the event organizer gets in touch with an FSA/REP/Mozillian me for an event, he/she I generally expect some basic things.

  • Make sure the date of the event is confirmed. Especially if the speaker or facilitator requires traveling and staying at that place.
  • Give an estimated number of attendees or participants for the event so that he/she could prepare accordingly. It’s NOT THE SAME when there’s an event for 20 people and for 100 people.
  • Make sure all the permissions for the venue are got in prior(preferably in writing) to confirmation with the speaker so that there won’t be any last minute hassles.
  • Mozilla events REQUIRE internet! Do not assume that since he/she didn’t specifically mention Internet, so they don’t require it. In some cases, the speaker might do necessary arrangements, however, it’s always best to re-check.
  • ALWAYS have a back up! The internet could always malfunction especially when there are many people connected to it. Make sure you have a plan. The cable to connect the projector might be different so prepare your laptop just in case.
  • Make sure that you tell the participants or attendees what the event is about so that they have an idea what to expect. A speaker or facilitator is more like your class teacher. He/she prefers 5-10 interested students rather than 100-120 people who are least interested. It’s not the crowd that matters, it’s the interest.
  • Confirm the arrival and departure details of the Speaker or facilitator very well in advance and ask him/her if any assistance is required on accommodation and travel options. It is more likely that you know the best routes, venues and hotels in your place.
  • If you are busy, MAKE SURE that you arrange some responsible people with the logistics, accommodation and travel. We all know that for a big event, it’s tough to manage everything on your own and things might go wrong, which is very understandable. It is always advised to have some helping hands to reduce your work burden and move things smoothly.
  • Do not panic when things go wrong. The speakers or facilitators who are coming for your event have conducted various events and know very well that things could go wrong. They do understand that and it’s always a good idea to ask for help rather than “hiding” things from them.

SPEAKER/FACILITATOR: Who is a Speaker/facilitator? This is generally an FSA/Mozillian/Mozilla Rep who has been invited as a domain expert to talk about something particularly in Mozilla or to introduce Mozilla and build a community. What is expected out of the Speaker/Facilitator:

  • Be prepared on what you’re going to talk about. Yes, we know you might be a fan of Joker and not Batman, but sometimes planning has it’s own perks.
  • Make sure you don’t run your session over time. People don’t like it! Always make sure your timings are such that you get time to cover what is required. In universities and schools, make sure that you schedule your session such that the students don’t miss their break times.
  • If you’re running a workshop, make sure that you deal with people at different paces. Be all over the place whenever required. It’s good to ask the event organizers or volunteers to help out people who are stuck.
  • Make sure you get in touch with the event organizers and confirm the event dates, venue and estimated number of attendees well in advance. This should also be done before booking the tickets if travel is required.
  • It is always advisable to think of a backup plan just in case things go wrong. If there is any other friend or acquaintance from the place, do get in touch and inform them too. This could be done even if the event organizer has a good track record of organizing events before.
  • If you’re going to a place where you don’t know the language they speak,the Internet is your friend. Do research about the place you’re going to, so that you know what to do, where to go and what to eat. Wikitravel and Tripadvisor are good websites for this. Also,if you’re on Couchsurfing.com, do check out verified people from the area for help around the city and AirBnB for staying.
  • Share your preferred medium of contact with all the participants so that they could get in touch whenever required.
  • If you’re not sure or don’t know something, feel free to admit it!

Common Goals for both: Pre-event: It’s a good idea to keep track of the metrics of the event before the planning. This helps analyze the required resources for the event and helps plan the event with less resources and more output. Post event: The success metrics of any event in general is defined by the number of contributors after an event and how we can sustain them. The approach differs from event to event but is always best discussed so that the organizer can think of ways in which there could be a follow up on the participants interested in contributing. Okay, So I just realized this was a huge post and you’ve survived till the end. So here’s something for you 🙂

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