028. Event Planning with Jessica D'Amico

Tips for planning events and building communities, from the organizer of PeersConf
Where we plan events
As self-employed folks, events are a great way to get feedback from others and learn new things. Part of productivity isn’t just about doing it all yourself, but also about reaching out to others and educating yourself.

Getting started with event planning
  • Organizing an event as a way to connect people that can help each other out
  • Events have many benefits including establishing oneself in a community, educating others, reinforcing skills, developing new skills, and opportunities to travel
  • Find speakers by paying attention to who's talking online and offer a way to accept proposals
  • Find sponsors and volunteers by picking ambassadors who know an area well and are eager to ask others for help
  • For a first event, start small, set reasonable goals, and keep logistics such as room size in mind
  • As an event grows, try different things to keep things fresh and understand what the audience wants
  • Some ways to get participants contributing:
    • Ask "what are you working on?"
    • Ask an audience about the challenges they face
    • Host speed-dating style events
    • Think about formats you've never used before
  • Consider the power dynamics at your event
  • Pick a venue that is physically accessible and easy to get to
  • Reach a wider audience by repeating your message a lot, talk about what you're doing, help people be seen, offer discounts and free tickets to underrepresented people
  • Twitter is a great place to practice talking to and helping others
There will be challenges
  • Start locally and keep it simple to avoid unnecessary challenges
  • Make sure to cover the basic necessities like water and bathrooms
  • Help everyone feel welcome
  • Don't make the event a sales pitch
  • Pay attention to the things that feel right
  • Paying a venue to manage logistics can reduce the stress and planning you need to do, but can cost more and seem less authentic
  • Have a few backup speakers or audience members who can wing a conversation
  • Layout a logistics plan down to the minute
  • Audiences are often sympathetic when challenges arise
  • Write down the things you want to pay attention to and keep it in mind when reading tweets, considering proposals, etc.
  • Make sure your profiles on social media direct people where you want them to get involved
  • Have a Code of Conduct and be clear about it
  • Train on important issues like how to remove a disruptor and what to do in a medical emergency
  • You can’t have a plan for everything, but planning helps prepare for the unexpected things too
  • Be selective about where you’re spending your time
  • Emulate people you think are doing it well
Useful tools
Where to find Jess
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