In the month of April and May my work with Afrobloggers saw me organising and hosting two blogging workshops in Bulawayo and Harare Zimbabwe. The Bulawayo workshop was mainly organised by our collaborative partners in the project: The Municipal Review but the Harare responsibility was for me to bear.
Here are the things I learnt during the whole process of handling these workshops
Until these workshops I had taken these four letters for granted on many occasions. RSVP is an acronym derived from the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît, meaning “Please respond” confirming your receipt,attendance or regret of an invitation. This is the most important part of every invitation as it determines all the planning and logistics for the event. For someone who is ordering food it determines the number of plates or platters, it also determines the venue to be hired. This is something I now take seriously because I experienced first hand how difficult it is to plan for uncertainties.
Brainstorm and create checklist.
It is important to seat and imagine exactly how you want the event to be like two weeks prior to the day. Imagine the feeling you want to create, the experience itself, and determine jotting down all things you shall need. It is easy to forget important items if things are left until too late. Ask people who have done it before. Visit different venues to select the one suitable for your desired experience. Remember write everything down!
Leave nothing to chance
When planning for an event it always important to be prepared for last minute setbacks. In my case two of the facilitators cancelled a day before the workshop, I would have panicked even i had not made arrangements for backup . For everything that you plan always have a back up plan.
Time is important
I was disappointed with the time that people attending the event started pitching up. We had communicated the starting time as 0800hrs but people only started arriving 2 hours later. So much for the ‘African time” thing we lost money to service providers who were charging hourly rates. Please people respect time when you have been invited to an event.
Budget and bargaining
I had to learn to be humble and bargaining for prices that would not blow our budget. I realised that most service providers are willing to compromise if approached from a point of honest intent. Respect the service providers despite you being the one with the money, plan adequately for their comfort at your event. They are part of your audience.
I made the mistake of not reviewing the content that was to be shared by the facilitators prior to the workshop day. I only realised this when the program was already in full swing. I had acted out of trust and lack of experience,I am glad nothing came out wrong but it could have! Unless the facilitator is well known to you, respectfully request a copy of the presentation to avoid surprises and embarrassments.
Last but not least, It is better to over- plan than to be found inadequately prepared. Be at the venue as early as possible to test equipment. This applies even if you have hired an events planner.
As always my experiences are not universal, I learn so much from your feedback. Have you ever hosted an event? How was it? Share your experience in the comments below.