It might be allright to be content with what you have, never with what you are.Anonymous.
You can have the best ideas, the most honourable intentions, and a high level of energy but like with everything else in life, you will have certain limitations in resources: time, money, and manpower. Taking resources into account in your planning is a prerequisite for success.
Let’s take an example: you have the objective to train youngsters in the fundamentals of democracy. It would be nice to do it at a fancy hotel with a high profile speaker and a huge audience. The hall charge in a five star hotel would cost you something like USD 5,000 and with High Tea you might end up at 7,500; the high profile speaker demands USD 10,000 to be there for 1.5 hours. In addition, it required five people to organise the event.
What will the youngsters get out of it? Surely, they will be impressed by the environment and feel honoured to have met your high-profile speaker. They will feel flattered to have been invited. But will they leave having learnt anything more about democracy than when they arrived? Experience suggests that high-profile speakers rarely stick to the chosen topic. They speak about whatever they wish to. Wouldn’t it be better to have an intensive training with a less well-known speaker? You can often see the high-profile speaker for free by visiting another event. Your resources are likely limited. When you are making an investment with those resources, are you achieving your objectives as efficiently as you might? What is the return on your investment? What do you get out of your resources? This is not necessarily just money, but your resources of time, effort and expertise. So, be aware of what you have and what you are aiming at.
First of all you have to allocate a time slot for planning. With this time slot you can plan taking resources into account. For example, planning an event for the day after you return from travelling would not be a good decision, as many little things have to be organised in advance. In fact, planning needs to begin a minimum of four weeks in advance — two months are even better. Some bigger events might require a year of preparation.
Furthermore, bear in mind the bigger picture. Nobody would think of organising an event during the Thanksgiving holiday but if you don’t check the dates, it is just the kind of careless mistake anyone can make. To ensure a good turn out, you need to make sure that you time your event depending on your target audience. For example, summer holidays might be good for students but bad for fathers from upper middle class families who use this time to travel abroad. Parliamentarians will be hard to attract during the budget session, while businessmen are often unavailable towards the end of the fiscal year.
You should also check to ensure that your event doesn’t clash with other events that are likely to attract the same target audience. If another organisation has already advertised or invited people it is sensible not to compete for the same group of people.
You should also think about what the weather will be like. There are good reasons that most weddings take place when the weather is pleasant [a Weather].
Money is a crucial resource in planning any event. It is sometimes tempting to consider how much money is available and then think about the kind of workshop you could organise with that money. However, we believe that this is the wrong approach, as it means you are not focusing on your objectives. You should start by outlining the objectives of your workshop and then thinking of ways to achieve them with the resources available. If your Target Audience Analysis reveals that you need to organise an event that is beyond your budget, there are several options available to you.
- Try to cut costs: Even if you feel that you need to organise your event in an expensive hotel, you should negotiate costs and cut back on unnecessary extras. For example, talk to the hotel about cheaper food options or plan the event so that no accommodation is required.
- Ask for voluntary contributions: The first port of call would be finding workshop leaders or trainers who are willing to participate for free or at a lower cost.
- Reduce the number of non-local participants: This reduces travel and accommodation costs.
- Find co-organisers: Is there another organisation with similar goals that might wish to get involved? Get in touch and make a proposal.
- Find sponsors: Who might have an interest in your target audience?
The better your events are, the more likely is it that other people put money in and want to take part at their own cost. Thus, make events successful and money will pour in almost automatically.
Any conference, seminar or training session is an interaction between human beings. The better the relationship between the facilitator and the audience, the better the event will be. Both sides will go home satisfied. Accordingly, taking also these resources into account is a must.
This is not always easy to achieve. Depending on the focus of your event, you will likely need:
- Guest speakers/lecturers
- Moderators [for the different types see roles of moderation]
Having experience or connections in the world of training and workshop management will give you a better sense of the kinds of personnel you will need. You should begin to collect contacts at events you attend and keep these contacts organised in a database so that you can get in touch with them easily when you come to manage your own event. It takes work, time and discipline to manage this kind of database, but it pays off in the long term. For those without an extensive phonebook, you will have to search. The Internet, professional and social networks and organisations whose work overlaps with your own are usually the best starting points for finding appropriate personnel.
We recommend a combination of male and female trainers. This is not an attempt to achieve a gender balance on principle, but simply because it will keep the workshop more interesting. The same goes for panels: try to achieve a nice mixture.
A successful event requires many helping hands. You cannot do everything by yourself. It is, of course, best to have trained staff but sometimes this is not enough. You may have to find some volunteers, temporarily paid helpers or even draft staff members from other organisations. Every staff member should be familiar with the objective of the workshop. They should be introduced to their task carefully. Thus, these resources are there for taking resources into account themselves.
Depending on the event you might need:
- Minute taker
- Report writer (in case a bigger report is planned)
- Sound technician (managing your audio system and multimedia equipment)
- Registration desk
- Co-hosts (welcoming special guests, guiding them to their seats, etc.)
- Photographer / Cameraman
- Media coordinator / PR manager