Thursday, 6 August 2009

On organising a conference..

My current project at my uni job is being a chief conference organiser. Having not attended a conference before, let alone organised one, this is a daunting, challenging and exciting task. In a way, my naivety has served me quite well as starting from the time I took up this post till now, I had no idea of the magnitude in which this task can grow. For months, I was in this bubble where I managed every little task that popped up in a cool and calm manner, and living under the impression that everything was under control.

So yesterday the boss suggested I meet with someone in the Uni who's recently organised a conference so that I can get an idea or two. An hour later, I can tell you I came back with more than an idea or two! I came back ashen-faced, with four full pages of scribbled notes, templates for this instruction, templates for that form, sample for this and that and what not you have it. It was during the meeting that I fully appreciated and understood that it was going to be a mammoth's task.

"You have to make sure you know when your keynote speakers are arriving so that you can have a back up plan in case they get here late.".... "Okay...." says me.

"You have to decide if you want real flowers or artificial ones on the main table."..."Okay..."

"You cannot be at the Registration desk as you'll be running around so you must assign two other people to do that"...."Okay..."

"Everybody who comes will have lots of questions and requests and you have to be readily availabe at all times."..."Okay..."

"Check that the menu for lunch for the two days is set and teas and coffees are arranged for the right time and there is a room for the delegates' luggage."...."Okay..."

"Make sure you have the right form for registration and evaluation..."

"Make sure all presentation slides are uploaded onto the pc in each room and test them to make sure that they work..."

"You have to think about how the delegates would get to the Hotel for the dinner and give them instructions for that..."

"The forms for delegates to choose their sessions will have to displayed with the abstracts..."

"You need to arrange two white boards for this and set that stand for that and...."

So when I came back into the office, I was in 'reality' land. To say that I wasn't aware of the different administrative tasks that a conference involve would be entirely untrue, but I guess all these minute details right from 'Registration' through to the Conference dinner and finally the closing on the next day, every single step needs very careful planning and execution. One detail missing and the thing can be messed up BIG time. Before this, I was only concentrating on the 'before conference' jobs as in marketing the conference, collecting papers for the conference, liaising with presentors and answering their queries, engaging sponsors, arranging the timetable for the two days... This time, visualising the REAL event has made me realise that careful planning is really the key to a successful conference. NOTHING can be missed !!

I am glad to have this opportunity to do all this, something which is completely different from my previous job which is teaching. It's exciting when you learn something new every day and you cross that invisible barrier in your mind and prove to yourself that YOU CAN DO IT!!

After the conference, I was told, that I have the task of editing the Conference Proceedings to look forward to !! That should be fun !!

The conference is not till September and by early September, I reckon everything will be in full swing by then and I shall try very hard not to be in a panic mode. I will keep you posted with how things go, chaps.


Bea said...

hey,... sounds really fun... good luck!!!

PengPeng彬彬 said...

bea have you been following attic24 lately?

tiee said...

great...i'm sure u'll do fine. Believe in yourself. Next u'll be organising a big wedding or maybe even a wedding planner...haha..
at least for yourself first. :P
sorry out of topic. the thought suddenly crossed my mind...Good Luck.

Fely said...

breathe...breathe....that's right...hahaha! you'll do just fine. xx

escape2 said...

you go girl

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