Master Event Planning

One way or another we will all be organizing events be it birthdays, weddings, or something required by our work. This blog post is more on organizing events in the context of work or organizations. It applies in organizing conferences, summits or the like. I am sharing this to the public since I think this will help us lot in maximizing events which we all invested in. As a learner, it is important for me to get the most of my time in conferences which includes networking with people, be inspired by speakers, and learn something new.
I do not own any of the ideas listed in here. It is mainly from the talk done by Intermedia Communications Training (www.IntermediaCT.com) in the Asian Development Bank. I hope the notes below will help you in organizing events. Keep on learning!
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What makes an interesting event:
  • Events is about people and not about organizations. You should make sure that there will be instances for networking.
  • Very good facilitator
  • Good time management – you need to be conscious of the time. It is either you finish on time or you finish ahead of time unless there is really something interesting happening that you cannot cut.
  • Close well – make it short, sweet, and tell people to do something. It is easier to push people to act on what they know right after a learning activity.
No-no’s:
  • Avoid too many panelists – 2 to 4 people should be enough
  • Avoid too many bullets in your presentation.
 
12 Principles for Event Organizers
  1. Begin with the end in mind – you need to find the purpose/reason at the start
    • Agree on the events purpose
      • Write down the outcomes you want
      • What is the take away?
      • How do you want to influence participants?
      • What is the mood you want to create?
  2. Find a unifying theme
    • What’s driving transformation
    • What are the key questions?
    • What’s the cutting edge?
    • Ex. The Africa We want (in 50 years) – they also used the hashtag: #AfricaWeWant which got the interest of journalist
    • Find the questions that everybody wants to answer
  3. Use ‘Reverse Engineering’
    • Standard:
      1. Topic
      2. Speakers
      3. Boredom
    • Reverse Engineering
      1. Think of the effect you want in your participants: “Inspirational Session”
      2. Look for speakers who can create the effect: “Inspiring Speakers”
      3. Create the topic: “Inspiring Panel Topic”
  4. Variety and Innovation
    • Don’t do the same topic over and over again
    • Come up with different events structure
    • You can have any of the following:
      • Game show
      • Fish bowl – two circles where people in the middle will talk about a topic and the people outside listen and observe
      • Talk show
      • Unconference – every one from the participants can be a speaker
      • Mini TEDx style events
  5. Give speakers clear directives
    • Event format and topic
    • What you want them to speak about
    • Their time length
    • Deadline for PowerPoint (if allowed) – have a clear deadline so that you can still check their presentation. You don’t want them to present 95 slides on the event itself.
    • Rehearsals – this should be an opportunity for the moderator to meet the panelists
    • In some cases, you may want to require them to have a contract to make sure that they show up
  6. Strong moderators
    • Energetic and professional on stage
    • Expert in panel subject matter
    • Able to exert discipline
    • Able to create interactivity
    • Strong moderators would usually make it clear what the session is and what will happen
    • Good moderators are captains of the ship
  7. Break down the barriers
    • You should move your audience to becoming participants
    • Create an interactive atmosphere
      • Do open mic session
      • Do crowdsourcing first
      • Government people meeting CSOs in a small and interactive space
  8. Networking
    • Bring networking in the middle of your event and not just a side event
    • Make sure that your refreshments are of good quality – bad coffee spoils conversation. (Back-up info: Psychology study says that if you are holding something warm, they tend to feel warm too. If they feel comfy sitting on a chair, they feel comfy listening to you too).
    • Try to organize a pubcrawl or social event after the conference. Your event goes beyond what’s written in the program.
    • People who actually have a post-conference event usually find the conferences more memorable.
    • Think of the iceberg that you need to break it.
    • You can ask the panelist or speakers to put their contact details on their presentation or in the program.
    • You want this to happen naturally but not really pushing it
      • You can put them together in one physical room
      • There can actually be in-session events like speed-dating for people to get to know each other
      • You can set-up a board where people can go after the event. Example: Youth dinner night in a nearby pub.
  9. Twitter/Use of Social Media
    • The key to using Twitter is to create an interesting hashtag
    • The idea for using Twitter is to not just broadcast but actually to engage people
    • Make sure that the hashtag is used so remind people vitually and visually about it
    • You can tell them to use hashtags for comments during sessions
    • It is also important engage your participants prior to the event using the social media
    • Use videos or podcast to make your sessions available for those who cannot make it.
  10. The big picture
    1. Put one planner in charge of the big picture. Assign a person who can step back, move from session to another, and see how everything is going. This person will do something like participant observation.
  11. Your people (your team) must commit
    1. Ensure that your people are actually attending the whole conference and that they are mentally present.
    2. Your people should know who are coming and see who are connected to their work and meet them.
    3. Your people can help in solving problems
    4. Your people can also use the event to ask for participant’s opinion then you can use that for your other work or for assessments
    5. Give everyone a job like Tweet or take pictures
  12. Magic moments
    1. Find the “Aha!” Moment per session. For example if it transportation, you may want to present samples of innovation in transportation.
    2. Think of the “Wow!” Moment per conference. For example, you may want to present a hologram of one speaker who can give the final remarks.
    3. The important part is to actually give them something that they will remember.
  13. Make the end point a high point.
    1. It should not be a reminder of logistics
    2. It should not just be summaries
    3. Give them something inspiring to end
    4. Propose actions.
Other things to note:
 
The space/venue
  • Be mindful of the physical space. Try to check the venue when there’s an event. Spaces tend to be different when there is nothing happening.
  • Usually green things like plants will make the setup look good
  • Try to use red, yellow, and green as that energizes people
  • Use galleries or rolling tarpaulins.
Questions
  • How to handle high level officials who speak too long?
    • Talk to them and be clear that they have 3 minutes when in fact they can have 6 minutes.
    • Try to ask their assistant to remind them about the time constraint.
  • What type of formats we can actually use?
    • Do something like a talk show: 1 journalist interview 1 prominent person
    • Think of bringing-in like minded speakers/guests and make them talk to each other (Ex. Kapihan session)
    • For example, you can invite young people to tell what they were doing and what do they want to happen
    • For example, you can invite Mohammad Yunus to tell something about Africa. He is interesting and his insights would be interesting.
  • How can you actually get your government officials or prominent people to do rehearsals?
    • If a day before rehearsal is not possible, just give sometime for the moderator and the speakers to meet each other before the session. Around 10 minutes in a holding room will do.
    • Best format for government officials could actually be no PowerPoint.
    • You can actually coach the people first on what will happen and what is expected from them.

Twenty o’thirteen: Learned from the slap

1483354_10202833457857765_2052922365_nIt was not an easy year, I must say. There were a lot of ups and downs. There were a lot of moments when I tried to stop for a moment to reflect but I couldn’t because I had so much to do. It is as if I really did a lot of work for this year, but not. I just felt tired – emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I kept things within me than share it to people or ask God for help.

Year 2013 gave a hard slap on my face. It’s not to punish or embarrass me but to make me think of my priorities. I learned a lot of lessons this year. I realized that relationships are more important than anything else. To get the most results, you need to work as a team and value the people you are working with. Success has no room for selfish people. I realized that trust can be given to every one but belief can only be given to some. You need to carefully choose the leader you will follow because a leader can either make or break you. I also realized to also slow down in giving all your efforts on what’s not yours. It is important to own it first before really giving in so you won’t get hurt once it is taken from you. It should be noted though that we cannot really cling to things found here on earth. The most important lesson I learned of all, for a person who hates goodbyes, is to learn to let go.

To fully realize the things I have to improve on, I did an assessment and planning last 28 to 30 December. Initially I thought that I missed to do the things I planned because of all the difficulties I witnessed and faced this year, I thought I failed. But I was wrong. Looking back and assessing this year, I realized that I actually accomplished a lot.

I…

  • Got promoted twice at work;
  • Got the chance to study in Ireland;
  • Met new amazing people and became friends with them;
  • Became a real life foundation coach;
  • Had an exciting adventure in China, Banaue Rice Terraces and other places;
  • Got the chance to help other people in times of disaster;
  • Fell in love;
  • Achieved the targets I set for work;
  • Achieve my fitness goal and got into yoga practice; and
  • Built more memories with my family and friends.

Planned accomplishments, unplanned accomplishments, and gapsSWOT Analysis

I was just probably tired that’s why I didn’t realized the beauty of this year. I tired the people around me too. I got a lot of pressures and my response was to take it all. I learned my lessons. All the things that happened in 2013 was necessary for me to realize that I have to reorganize my priorities, set a system, follow it, but still make room for some surprises and changes from God. I need to breathe and enjoy the moments.

To let God take over is primarily the main point of the plans I set for the next three years of my life. I decided to plan for three years because I know that changes and my prayers will take some time to be realized. I want to avoid the rush of getting things done based on my time. I want it to be according to God’s time. Among the strategic objectives I set for the next years are (not the exact phrasing I did):

  • To be a woman after God’s own heart (as inspired by E. George);
  • To help and influence people by adding value to them (as inspired by J. Maxwell);
  • To secure my family’s future;
  • To become the best person I could be for others; and
  • To maximize my season of youth.
The thinking hat - facts. what to do, challenges, solutions, and feelings

The thinking hat – facts. what to do, challenges, solutions, and feelings

The 3-year goal, purpose, objectives, success indicators, and targets

The 3-year goal, purpose, objectives, success indicators, and targets

I am excited how these plans with turn out. Much more is the fact that I am excited for the bigger things ahead. What I’m doing now is prepare – prepare -prepare. This year taught me a lot a lessons that I could bring in 2014. I still thank this year for both its pains and joy. I wouldn’t ask for another 2013. I wouldn’t ask for other memories to be in it, much more are other people to be in it. I love it the way it shook me as a person. I want get out of this better.

Before another digit adds to this year, allow me to thank all the people who became part of it…

  • To my family, thank you for all the support and love. I couldn’t be who I am now without your understanding and nurturing. I love you all.
  • To all my new found friends. It was a pleasure meeting you. The universe must be so small to bring people like you and me together. I am looking forward to making more memories with you. I love you.
  • To all my friends since I was born, thank you for staying. Some people left and some people go, but I believe you are all worth keeping. I will fight with all my might just to make sure you’ll still be there kicking with me until 3014 (that is if you still want to be with me). I love you.
  • To all my colleagues in ANSA East Asia Pacific, thank you for the lessons you taught me. Thank you for constantly checking on me. True to the goals of being socially accountable, thank you the four years of pruning. I love you.
  • To all my orgmates in Rotaract, Comm4Change, Global Changemakers, Clinton Global Initiative, Victory Church, National Youth Parliament, Global Youth for Anti-Corruption, and ADB Youth Partners – thank you so much for constantly inspiring me. You all served as a fuel to keep me going. What we are doing is not easy but as long as I know there are still people like you who wants to make this world a better place, I won’t quit. Thank you and I love you all.
  • To all who volunteered and contributed in RevivePh, Checkmyschool, and Paraiso, thank you so much. I hope you won’t get tired in helping. Your heart to help others is what makes this journey of change-making more meaningful. Let’s continue to hope that days will be better soon. I love you all.
  • To my mentors, teachers, supporters, and detractors, thank you for making time for me. I really appreciate your words of encouragement and advises. Though I am not following all of those, rest assured that it is all considered and carefully thought of. I promise to continue in seeking your words and carefully follow it next time. Again, thank you so much and I love you all too.
  • To all the people I met along the way, thank you for that time our eyes met and said hello. I am looking forward to building more memories with you soon. I hope your wishes for 2014 will come true. I love you.

To conclude my final blog post for 2013, allow me to share some of my answered prayers this 2013 to inspire you of the surprises ahead. These are the faith goals  we set in church every January of the year and the answers I got along the year:

  • Promotion from work -> new responsibilties in ANSA;
  • New discipleship group -> Lai, Maan, Mona, and company;
  • Sustainability of Checkmyschool for the next 5 years  -> got a grant from GPSA on this;
  • New business/social enterprise -> Paraiso Junks;
  • Wear swimsuit in the beach with good figure -> haha! I did this is Caramoan

This coming 6 to 10 January, we will be doing another prayer and fasting in Victory. If you wish to join, you may do so by clicking this link. I promise that this is something you will be thankful for.

Thank you so much for reading this post. Have a blessed 2014 to you and your love ones! #lovelovelove #feelings

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” – Anonymous

Victory Sunday Service: It’s Not About the Money

Today’s topic: Giving
Speaker: Chinkee Tan

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● Finance has a spiritual and practical side. Everything that happens on the exterior has something do with what’s happening in the interior.

● The way you see the father, affects how you approach him. If you know God owns everything, would you hesitate to ask anything?

● Giving is never an issue of what you have but an issue of the heart.

Why are people not giving?
1. Greed.
● You will never have enough.
● We all have different levels of greed: greed 1, greed 2, greed 3.
● Love of money alone is the root of evil because we are focusing on it instead of God.

2. Poverty
● Poverty is an issue of the mind. Even if you have all the money in the world, you will still be poor if you don’t know what to do with it. ● See verses:
Jer 5:4 and Prov 10:21

3. Entitlement mindset
● We worked hard for it, why will we just give it? Is it really our work or God’s work?
● See verse:
Deut 8:17-18

4. Selfishness or self-centeredness
● See verse:
Psalm 119:36

How can we be generous?
● See verses:
Psalm 119:36, 2 Cor 8:1-5, Acts 4:33, Luke     6:38, Gal 6:9, Rom 8:29, and Hebrews 13:21

● Change of mind and a change of heart (Acts 4:32-37)
   ○ Mindset (v.32) – none of those 
      belongings belong to anyone
   ○ Heart (v.32) – they share what they have because it all belongs to God

● God’s ownership = Man’s stewardship

● The purpose of blessing us to become a blessing to others.

● The hardest person to please is yourself.

● Giving should be a lifestyle and not just a one time thing.

● When God removes something from us, we ask why me? When God blesses you, do we ever ask why us?

● Believers of God give in FAITH because they know that they will never lack.

● It will not be hard to ask something from God especially when it’s align to his plan and agenda.

● Money is not the end in itself, it should be used to bless other people. It may be impossible for you, it is not for God.

● The purpose of blessing us is for us to become a blessing to others.

● Believers of God give in FAITH because they know that they will never lack.

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Using Social Media for Big Listening

Using Social Media for Big Listening
October 10th, 15:00 BST – 10:00 EST – 7:00 PST

The rise of social media as a tool in advocacy, engagement and mobilisation has been dramatic. But as more organizations make use of social tools to promote program and campaign messages, only a small percentage of organizations are “listening” to see how people are spreading the word, what worked and what did not. At the same time, we’re learning about U.S. government agencies listening to online communications. We’ll discuss a few recent examples of big listening.

This webinar will demonstrate a range of listening activities and monitoring tactics that follow available social platforms–including blogs, video, Twitter and Facebook, discussion boards like Reddit, and online mainstream media. Using a range of tools to track these social platforms, including simple free ones you can create an “online dashboard” that gives fast insight into conversation trends on the issues and programs you care about. Rachel Weidinger will talk about the innovative approaches that her organisation, Upwell.us (http://www.upwell.us/), has developed to monitor discussions about the Ocean and Dirk Slater from Fabriders (http://www.fabriders.net) will discuss how these techniques have been used in marginalised communities.

Jessica Steimer from Aspiration (http://www.aspirationtech.org) will discuss the basic building blocks of listening, including email alerts, searches, feeds and tags.

More information can be found here: http://tech.transparency-initiative.org/events/using-social-media-for-listening-tabridge-webinar-2/

A teacher is a change-maker

We finally saw each other again after 11 years.:DWe finally saw each other again after 11 years.:D

Teary-eyed, I went home from the birthday party of my teacher’s son. I cried because I finally saw Ma’am Sharon, my adviser in first year high school, whom I haven’t seen for 11 years. More than being a teacher, she’s the one who believed that I can do more that I thought, and that there is something special about me that no one sees. My heart just overflowed with gladness as the past comes back, then I wiped my tears.

A very relaxed student who prefers to play games or do some art stuffs – that’s who I am, at least during high school. I am often scolded for not studying at all. If I do, that was usually a night before my class. Thanks to my mom who helped in finishing my assignments. Thanks to my grandma too who would bribe me every time I passed exams. These external motivations kept me at the top 10 in my class. But for my dad, being in the list of the top in class was nothing. He didn’t even go to my elementary graduation simply because I’m not the class valedictorian.

In first year high school, I got the opportunity to become the class president. That was a big leap because it required more responsibility and discipline from me. Being the head of the class paved the way for me to spend more time working with my adviser Ma’am Sharon Chavez on school matters. We would stay late decorating the room or preparing for school competitions.  Those were good leadership training at an early age of 13, but what’s more life changing is how much Ma’am Sharon pushed me to be better by really pressuring me to perform better in school.

First year sectioning at the National College of Business and Arts is organized randomly. However, there are these students from 1st year Amiable which dominates the top 10. To get into that list is a tough challenge primarily because you don’t know how your opponents were performing since you are in a different section (if that’s the best thing to describe it then). At first I didn’t frame myself that I have to be the top in class, but because I have that strong push from Ma’am Sharon to do my best. That was difficult challenge because that will entail sacrificing my play time and comfort. But that is something Ma’am Sharon fought for, as she consistently motivates and coached me to be one of the best students in high school.

1st year section Humility with adviser Sharon Chavez
1st year section Humility with adviser Sharon Chavez

Whenever my mom gets my report card, Ma’am Sharon would tell her that I am a very great student. I just need to be pushed (that’s super cool cause my mom would tell that to my dad). In class, she would always call me for recitation, believing that I have answers to her questions. She later would give me things I have to improve and some tips on how to do better. She would constantly remind me to work harder. It’s like having a teacher, a sister, and a coach all in one person. I felt pressured but it all turned out good at the end.

I got into the top 10 of the 1st year on the third and last quarter. I was the top in my section too. Not only in the academics did I really improve. I got to develop my leadership skills too as the head of the class. Our section managed to win several school-wide competitions. We also got the recognition of the most beautiful classroom. Thanks to our young and passionate adviser. She was always there all along.

Photo credits: FacebookPhoto credits: Facebook

To be the best that I can be, to believe that I can make it to the top, and to really work hard to achieve my goals are lessons from Ma’am Sharon that I’ve been continuing to live up to this day. Who I am now, and who I will be in the future is partly because I got great teachers who didn’t just teach, but believed that I can do it. It is true that no matter how good the teachers are, there will always be bad students. However, I would like to attest that it takes only one teacher to believe that a bad student can be someone, for them to be able to change. It all requires good faith. It takes a good teacher to do that.

Tonight, I just want to shout to the world how a teacher changed my life. For most of the time we take for granted how much they played a part in our lives simply because we paid them (at least for private schools). We often forget how crucial they were in giving us the power to do and understand things. I’d like to believe that a teacher’s job is not mainly to teach, but really to change a person. It’s one of the professions I look up to. It’s one of the things I commit to do soon.

Thank you Ma’am Sharon for everything! Thank you to all our amazing teachers!:)

Lessons in life from the Clinton Summer School 2013

Here are some lessons learned (Other lessons will be posted soon. Please be back for the updated version):

On issue resolution/conflict management:

  • “Dealing with the past will always be difficult” – Dansel McDaniel
  • “It is important to make a compromise and decision at a certain time. Timing is always important on this.” – Peter Quinn
  • “Shortened diplomacy will never deliver a solution. Solutions are delivered when people come face to face.” – Peter Quinn

On business/social enterprise:

  • “The best business plan is having the person who has the ability to do it” – Emer of Dublin City University
  • “Be prepared to take a risk.” Emer of DCU
  • “The keys to success are: (a) vision to make a difference, (b) determination to do it, (c) confidence to do it, (d) believing that it is good, and (e) accept the possibility of failure but still do it. – Peter Quinn
  • “What makes a business person different? They normally hunger for success or wealth. They see market opportunities. They are prepared to take a risk. They are community oriented. They can lead. But best of all, they should be leaders.”  – Peter Quinn

On change-making:

  • “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – quoted by Lauren from Mahatma Gandhi
  • “The biggest bigotry: We don’t listen to the people who disagree with us.”
  • “We easily get caught up in the day  to day life that we forget that the simple things in life is what matters most.”
  • “One of the determinants of life is confidence. You have to believe in yourself.” – Peter Quinn

Disclaimer: These are just my notes. If I fail to quote someone or failed to capture what the exact quote is, please let me know.