Event Organizing

Alice and Bob walk into a bar…

Alice: So you want to run an event…
Bob: Yes Alice, our Amnesty group wants to run an event.
Alice: What kind of event do you want to run?
Bob: Well, I’m not sure, what would you suggest?
Alice: Well bob, first you need to think about what it is that you want. Do you need to fundraise, awareness-raise, campaign, get letters signed, or just generally get your group active?
Bob: Woah… steady on Alice, surely it can’t be that complicated.
Alice: Well, in truth, it is no more or less complicated than you want to make it.
Bob: Really? I thought it was really hard, requiring loads of specialist knowledge and experience. I don’t know anything!
Alice: Well Bob, everyone had to start somewhere. I would have to agree that knowledge and experience do help, but not having any won’t disqualify you from being able to run an event, regardless of its size.
Bob: Really? That’s heartening.
Alice: I hope so, it helps to remember here at Amnesty that one person can make a difference.
Bob: That’s cute Alice, but what of event management?
Alice: Ok, well it is really very easy. Have you ever had a party?
Bob: Of course I have.
Alice: Well, try to think of the event like a party. What makes a party a party?
Bob: Ummm. . . I don’t know. I suppose it’s a party if lots of people come along and have fun.
Alice: Exactly! That’s really all an event is – It’s a party.
Bob: Alice, you’re being silly. This is about human rights, it’s meant to be serious!
Alice: Just because human rights are serious doesn’t mean that all our events have to be dreary and boring. Nobody will come if all our events are dreary and boring. Amnesty International Australia have even run a few comedy nights in the past and they were successful awareness-raisers and fundraisers precisely because they weren’t super-serious affairs.
Bob: Now way! A comedy night, that’s ridiculous. Anyway, we’re going off-topic,
you were trying to teach me how to run an event.
Alice: So I was. First thing you think about when organising a party?
Bob: That’s obvious, getting everyone to come along.
Alice: Right, so we need to get people to come along. But who?
Bob: Well, that depends very much on what kind of party it is… ooohhhhh!!! I see where you’re going with this! If I’m organising a gala dinner at a fancy hotel which is going to cost hundreds of dollars, I need to try to target different people than if I’m just having a trivia night at a pub.
Alice: Exactly! You’re a fast learner. What else do you think about when organising a party?
Bob: Well, I guess people need a reason to be there. Actually, if a party is big enough, or your guest list is wanky *cough*… I mean… swanky enough, then people will want to come.
Alice: Very good, anything else?
Bob: Well, the party needs a venue doesn’t it, and a date.
Alice: You’ve just about got it all.
Bob: No way! Organising a big event is totally harder than that!
Alice: You’d be quite surprised how difficult doing all that stuff is. I mean, it’s fairly straightforward if you’re having a small party with a handful of mates, but if you’re having an event with lots of guest speakers and hundreds of guests things can get tricky.
Bob: I guess they would, I’d have to think about all the little things, transport for the guests, decorations, sound and lighting for bigger events. Wow, the list builds itself up pretty quickly.
Alice: Yes, it does. You should probably write it all down so you don’t miss anything. You should also probably get some friends to help you.
Bob: But I haven’t got any friends.
Alice: Don’t be silly Bob, you’ve got lots of friends. What about your Amnesty group?
Bob: Why would they want to help me?
Alice: Because you’re organising an event for Amnesty International.
Bob: Oh yeah… good point.
Alice: It will give them something to do, you can write up your list of tasks and distribute mini-projects to each individual.Then when you have your regular meetings, you can all report on your progress and you can then distribute extra help where it is needed and steer the direction of the team.
Bob: But I still don’t think I really know what to do, how do I know where I’m steering the team to?
Alice: You’re not stupid Bob, just figure it out. Figuring out each of the little things isn’t actually very difficult. The trick is to make sure you don’t miss anything. Really big events have lots of tasks and it’s easy to overlook something or mis-time something.
Bob: Mis-time?
Alice: Oh yeah, sometimes timing is crucial. You wouldn’t start telling people about your 21st birthday party at your 10th now would you?
Bob: Well… no… not unless my 21st was some kind of monstrously huge party.
Alice: I think you’ve just illustrated my next point – the bigger the event, the more preparation you’ll need.
Bob: Oh, I see. I suppose, when you look at it like that, organising a huge comedy night at a theatre with thousands of people attending wouldn’t be impossible, just so long as you started early and organised yourself well.
Alice: That’s right. I hear that is exactly what the team of volunteers who did that did, they started preparing and planning it eight months in advance.
Bob: Wow! Eight months.
Alice: Don’t worry, most events don’t need anywhere near that amount of time.
Bob: Gee Alice, thanks. It doesn’t seem so bad. Get a venue, get a date, decide who you want to come to the event and tell them at an appropriate time.
Alice: Don’t forget to be clear about your objectives, don’t try to do too much at once. Concentrate on one aspect, take anything else as a bonus, but don’t invest too much time into it.
Bob: Of course, that’s obvious Alice.
Alice: Well, I’m glad you think so. I guess you’re pretty ready to plan an event then…
Bob: Holy cow, I guess I am…

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