Don’t go it alone.
Technically, sure, you can do it. But don’t. It’s not worth the pain, frustration, stress, and anxiety.
If you’ve got a desire to produce an educational event for a community, there are a lot of details to pull together to be successful and managing those tasks requires a lot of time and energy. So, before you dig into that task list, build your team.
Building a team not only distributes the workload, but has the potential to bring diversity of thoughts, perspectives, and ideas – all contributors to more successful outcomes.
Our event – M365TC
I’ve been a part of local events for years. The one I’m most involved with is M365 Twin Cities, formerly a SharePoint Saturday event. For a bit of context, before COVID we were running two events a year with 300-500 attendees. Details about our most recent event: M365 Twin Cities Winter 2023 by the Numbers – Wes Preston (idubbs.com).
Our current organizing team has six members, though we’ve had as many as eight people involved. There are countless ways to spread out responsibilities. You’ll likely find that assignments can align with team members’ skills, though roles may also evolve over time. Each person brings their own skills, experience, and strengths. Leverage what you can, grow the skills you don’t have, and lean on other folks in your community or the broader community when you can or need to (see info below about MGCI).
The following is an example of how an event team could delegate tasks and roles. It’s just an example of how our team does it, not necessarily a model for everyone.
- We have a person that manages sponsorships – They determine sponsor levels, assemble documentation and materials, communicate with sponsors running up to the event, connect with sponsors the day of the event, and following up with them after the event.
- We have a person that manages speakers – They organize the call for speakers, coordinate and moderate the speaker selection process (a group of as many of our organizing group as we can get together), manage communication with speakers, coordinate speaker gifts, post session details and assemble the agenda, pull together and distribute speaker and session feedback, and more.
- We have a person that coordinates food for the event, pulls together a speaker dinner, and orders all of our swag.
Preparing the food requires talking with potential vendors, pricing out options, coordinating delivery, and more all to keep our attendees fed. The speaker dinner requires coordinating the location, menu, invites and RSVPs.
Event swag varies event to event but involves selecting items, managing timelines, and more.
Note: Sounds like a lot of for one person, and it is. These could easily be delegated to three separate folks, but we’ve been lucky to have this person around for years and she’s got it all figured out.
- We have a person that does all the money and legal stuff. It’s a short description, but pretty specific and requires its own experience.
- We have someone that coordinates our venue – Finding the venue when we need to move, communicates with the venue host, handles contracts, maps and materials for the event and signage for attendees to get around, and more. Details here include what rooms, resources, and staff are needed and available for the event. They typically coordinate set up and tear down, putting up a giant session “wall” (agenda for the day by room), communications for the team during the event, and AV for keynotes, opening, and closing sessions.
- We have a volunteer coordinator that figures out what we’ll need help with, comes up with a plan, and organizes a call for volunteers prior to the event. During the event she wrangles all the volunteers, sets up and staffs the check in desk for attendees.
Don’t let the number of words or the length of the descriptions above fool you either. This doesn’t capture everything we end up doing. We all have our hands full. Our team is pretty flexible, so there are often responsibilities that jump from one person to another as time and availability dictate. There are all sorts of variations out there on how to run an event, where to invest your time, and more. This is just one example.
The main point is, there’s a lot of work to do and having a team in place helps spread the work around without (hopefully) overwhelming any one person. You have to divide to conquer. Build a great team.
In the Microsoft space, the Microsoft Global Community Initiative is working to make organizing Microsoft community events easier by providing tools and resources for leaders to put on successful events. Keep an eye on MGCI as this effort matures, grows, and more resources become available to help you be successful.
Note: I was recently named a Regional Leader for MGCI. What does that mean? Stay tuned… 🙂