Making the Event a Success
After facilitating dozens and dozens of professional development and speaking events, I’ve learned a lot about what works (and what doesn’t). One thing that is crucial is the role of the organizer of the event. Since we all want a great experience for everyone, here are some of the things that work best.
The Room Itself
- If the room isn’t square, it’s far better to have it be oriented “portrait” as opposed to “landscape.” It’s much harder to engage side-to-side than front-to-back.
- The room should not have a lot of empty space. It creates an energy vacuum and also affects acoustics. If the choice is a room that is slightly too small over one that is much too large, pick the slightly small one.
- It is imperative that someone is there who can adjust the temperature.
- It is imperative that someone is there who can address any technical issues.
- For full- or half-day PD, we’ll need tables facing forward. Rectangular tables are far preferable to round tables.
- For conferences, any size group is fine (for shorter sessions).
- For longer sessions, I typically will not do groups of more than 150. If you have a larger group, contact me about it.
- Please do not allow attendees to reorganize the tables and chairs to form cliques.
- Please allow enough time for lunch that attendees can leave, eat, and return.
- The norms are simple: professional behavior: on-task tech, no disruption, full participation, honoring time. They must be enforced by someone running the event.
- I’ve got two choices for an introduction. You can find them here. Please use whichever one works best for your audience.
- Please plan to actively monitor attendees. I can’t effectively do classroom management for a group of people I will only know for a day while I’m trying to facilitate world class training. I need your help.
- Someone must remain all day who will do the active monitoring and has the authority to remove participants who are unwilling to demonstrate professional behavior. This has only happened to me once, but once was more than enough.
- I will begin the day with a little something extra. After fifteen minutes, I will signal you, and then you will please begin the workshop by explaining the norms. If you would like the norms on a slide, please send them to me and I will add them in.
- When you (or your representative) are not actively monitoring, please be participating. Please do not sit in the back of the room on a laptop. This sends an unpleasant message to teachers.
- I will use my own laptop. I have connections for both VGA and HDMI.
- I need access to the laptop during the presentation, so I need a little podium or table right near me.
- I need a 3.5 mm connection to the room’s audio.
- For groups larger than 40, I will need a mic. It cannot be attached to the podium because then I have to be attached to the podium, too.
- I will give you electronic copies of the handouts. Please have those available in whichever way your attendees prefer (paper or electronic).
This ended up being a pretty long list, yet behind every point is a story. These guidelines ensure the best possible outcome for an event you have spent time preparing. Together, we can make it the best it can be.
Questions? Clarifications? I’m just an email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.