- Oriana Skylar Mastro
Create an Event Guide
Events are exciting! People want to hear what you have to say. That's fun. I'm constantly telling my family members that other people love to hear my opinions. Alas, that is a topic for another blog post.
Ugh, but the event admin. I'm probably exaggerating, but I feel like I have to exchange dozens of emails to finalize the setup for my participation in an event. Given that I do, on average, four events a week, the burden of all this coordinating can seem overwhelming. There are dozens of questions from needed headshots, bios name pronunciations to communication options, and payment information (if you're lucky).
I'm a big fan of templates. I talk about using an email template to respond to people's requests for one-on-one meetings in this blog post on being purposeful about appointments. So I decided to create an event guide with everything in it that people usually ask from me and things I should be asking of them if I am to make the most about my participation.
Pay the Setup Costs Take two weeks and jot down the types of information people ask of you or the various things organizers have gotten wrong in the recent past. This can determine what you put in your guide. My sections are:
Names, Titles, and Affiliations
Bios and Headshots
Scheduling and Comms
Publicizing the Engagement
Take a look at the full version of my event guide here:
Put it all together. Draft the guide that suits your purposes. Also, figure out if you need spin-offs. I decided on one event guide, a pro bono event guide that does not include the compensation information, and a media guide that does not include the scheduling section.
Produce Reminders. Add the event to your calendar. Create a reminder for your to-do list with instructions on what you need to prepare. If there is compensation involved, I add the expected amount, POC, and expected payment date to a spreadsheet to help me monitor those payments. Also, produce a reminder to submit an invoice right after the event if that is relevant. (These are all great things to have an assistant do if you have one.).
Performance Notes. I was inspired to put together the event guide largely because I felt like I wasn't getting all I could get out of my participation. I didn't have my own system for remembering to publicize my participation before and after. Also, many organizations that support me (thank you!) ask me for examples of my 'impact.' This can often be difficult to discern on your own. For my military duty, I got in the habit of asking after I participate in something for an 'impact statement' because we need these for our Officer Performance Reports. Just by asking, I get detailed and useful information about how I'm helping the organization advance, things I’d never figure out independently. So I decided to try to do the same in my civilian career – to ask event organizers to send me an impact statement after the fact. It’s a new experiment, so I'll let you know how it goes.
If you are interested in other event-related posts, here's one on when to say no to an event and another about how to negotiate the terms of your participation.