Best Practices for Event Organizers
If you’re hosting an event that requires you to facilitate a discussion or lead any group process, here are some general tips for bringing together a successful event.
BEFORE YOUR EVENT (3 R’s)
- Reserve a venue and think through logistics.
Make sure you've got a space reserved for your event. Libraries and community centers are great options-‐-‐but so is your living room!
Once you've got the space lined up, think through what else you'll need to do to have a good event. Do you have enough chairs? Will you be serving food? Can you bring extra paper and pens, in case people want to take notes but forgot to bring anything with them? Do you need a sign-in sheet or nametags?
- Recruit others to come.
You should reach out to your friends, family, co-‐workers and anyone else who might be interested. The most tried-‐and-‐true way we know to get people out to events is to pick up the phone and call them.
- Review your event plan and/or meeting agenda.
Think about your goals and desired outcomes. Does your plan help you to achieve your goals and desired outcomes? It often helps to actually write these down and share these with others. Goals can be more general, desire outcomes should be specific and measurable. Have no more than 3 goals, and no more than 5 desired outcomes.
Is your agenda too long or too ambitious? Remember, less is more.
What can you delegate to others so you’re not trying to do everything?
SOME TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL HOSTING/FACILITATION:
Break up into small groups. The most meaningful conversations happen when there are only two or three people talking together. It’s also much easier for shy people to contribute. The goal of these events is to give everyone a chance to talk and to let everyone feel that they have a stake in building the movement.
Establish ground rules to make sure people’s opinions are respected. As a facilitator, you can come up with some basic ground rules and spend a minute or two to ask participants to add to the ground rules. Some most common and effective ground rules are: one person speaking at a time, active listening, no assumed expertise in the room, and agreeing to disagree.
Do pay attention to group dynamics, if you decide to not break people up into small groups. If you find that the same people are taking over the discussion, and there are some quiet people in the room unwilling to share their opinions, you can encourage them to talk by slowly walking to their side of the room, and gently asking them to speak and making eye contact.
Arrange the chairs in the room to encourage group discussions. Horseshoes or circles allow you and the participants to be able to make eye contact with everyone. If you are facilitating a large meet-‐up, consider arranging chairs in multiple small circles.
Acknowledge it when the conversations are getting off topic, and try to gear it back to the topic at hand, or move on to the next topic. As the host, you’re the only person with the clear responsibility to keep things on track.
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