A "how to organize events" guide

To-do-List

Many thanks to Mareike Lattermann who provided much input.

There is also a draft with hints in german, provided by Till Issler.

Establish Communcation Platform

There are some free Web2.0 enabled project management sites like Redmine which offer notifications, a wiki and other project management tools. Establish a project and install a userID and pw for me too. I'd like to sit together with the teams for a kick-off and every once in a while during the organization phase.

Set date/location, reserve room for your event!

Set a date for your event and reserve a room for it with room management (VCA). Remember that rooms are tight right now. Nice ones are aquarium and audimax.

Planning and Contacts

Get together and start planning immediately. Define what you would like to hear and come up with a list of possible speakers - external and internal. Start contacting your speaker RIGHT NOW! Don't underestimate the time it takes to get a confirmation from busy professionals. Don't be shy - even well known speakers can only say no. Ask around, ask friends and colleagues. It is always a surprise who knows whom in this business. Get back to me in time if you have problems finding speakers or if we need to arrange transportation etc.

Get mobile phone numbers etc. from your speakers and define what to do in case of an emergency (missed train etc.)

How much time for each speaker?

Usually we pack to many talks into an event. But in many cases discussions take a lot of time as well. Think about the kind of event you are planning: is it likely that there are many confrontational issues? Then leave ample room for discussions between talks. And give visitors a chance to get acquainted with each other (and yourself a chance to meet your guests) by defining reasonable breaks between talks. Coffee breaks are one of the most important things when you organize an event.

The catch22: no speakers without agenda, no agenda without speakers

Some speakers want an agenda before they commit. Unfortunately you can only come up with an agenda once they have committed. What you need is a tentative agenda which does not have to be true to the letter.

The press

Assuming that you would like to see guests at your event (possibly lots of them) you will need some press coverage. This includes the HDM press office (Mrs. Lauer/Mrs Duwe). They can help you but need input from you. They know lots of channels to announce your event on. Your input: a picture (possibly your poster for the event), a short description of the event and the agenda. It should also mention the speakers and their affiliation (company, university) and a timeline.

Poster Design

Depending on your graphic skills create a poster for your event. It needs to feature

Link to HDM Homepage
Link for the live stream: remember to ask in time for that
Date, time and location
Topics and possibly speakers, but that depends
Link to live chat so internet guests can ask questions
Streaming

There are a number of things to remember when you plan for a live stream

Get in touch with the streaming specialist (currently Michael Gerlinger) AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. You will need a streaming URL anyway for the poster and press people. He will show you how everything works but hates to do so only hours before the event..
Decide who will learn to operate the software and camera. Possibly two or three members of your group.
Check for fresh batteries for the microphones.
Be there early in the morning well before the event starts and help us carrying the equipment to the room. Don't forget to use gaffer tape to secure the lan cables to the floor.
Create material for the breaks. Visitors from the internet should see that there is a break. One option is to show the agenda during breaks. Another one to advertise something.
Sound

This is by far the most important part of streaming. Get familiar with the microphones. Define who will help guests with the cable-less microphones and how they are switched on/off. Closely monitor your guests and make sure that the micophone switch is in the proper position. Turn the speaker microphones OFF during breaks etc. to avoid embarrassing situations..

In all cases, try to run the sound through the audio equipment of the room as well. Some speakers have a weak voice.

Talk to our onsite radio station (HORADS) whether they want a feed.

Pictures

Don't forget the newspapers etc. need pictures from your event. Streaming is OK but it is not enough. Define who is going to take some pictures. (we have cameras in case you need one).

University-TV

Don't forget to tell the university TV crew (Stufe) about your event. They might come and take some shots.

Live Chat

There are public chats available galore. Use one to allow internet guests to ask questions from outside. Define who in your group will watch the laptop during the event for new questions.

Newsletter

Inform interested people via our newsletter. Input is your text for the press office. The important part is when to send the newsletter. Just about 2 weeks before the event is good. Otherwise people forget about it. Much shorter will be a problem because the agendas have filled up...

One or two weeks before the event

Put your posters up at universities, branch offices etc. AND HDM itself. Use special stands from facility management for those posters and have them signed by facility management (otherwise they will be taken down)
If you want someone from the university (president, vice-president, dean) to do a short keynote, inform them in a timely fashion or you will get none.
The day before the event

Get the handouts ready. (agenda)
Talk to facility management (Mrs. Bohr) about water/glasses etc. for speakers.
Talk to catering about coffee.
Get MI-T-Shirts from us and put on name tags. This allows visitors to recognize members of the organization team of the event in case someone needs help or has a question.
The day of the event

Assuming that you have organized the streaming stuff etc. here comes what happens during the event.

  1. Show up early in the morning

  2. Put up little A4 posters which show visitors the way to the event room. Use special stands from facility management (Mrs. Zeller) which you have reserved the day before! Put lots of those wayfinding helpers out there, especially if there are several floors and visitors will enter the building through different sides.

  3. Get water/glasses etc. for speakers from facility management (Mrs. Bohr).

  4. Get the coffee from catering (S-Bar)

  5. Help to carry down the streaming stuff and start setting it up. Use gaffer tape to secure cables. A good place for the camera is in the middle of the audience. This allows us to capture the slides from the screen in reasonable quality. We are testing a split stream from the laptop to our recording system as well.

  6. Hook up to room audio equipment.

  7. Copy the hand-outs for the visitors (containing the agenda with names, topics and the schedule).

  8. Have little signs with 10 min., 5 Min, END for speakers who want or need some hints about their time.

  9. Someone from your team should welcome our guests and speakers at the beginning of the event. Visitors should not put personal things outside the event room. The speakers should be introduced by their contact person from the orga team.

  10. During the lunch break make sure that the door of the event room is locked.

  11. At the end of the event please help us collect the equipment, take back glasses, water, coffee etc. and clean up the room.

The days after the event

Now you have to deal with your newly acquired fame...

The most important thing is to get back to your speakers and to thank them for their efforts. Please send e-mail addresses to me as well so I can do the same (and put them on our newsletter or come back to them later for a different event).