Organising a conference – guest contributor Kaye Churches

There’s only a few more sleeps to go until Tony Self kicks off the TCANZ 2014 Conference in Christchurch.

 

When I took on the job of organising the 2014 conference I knew it was a ‘pretty big job’ but so far it’s been fun (mostly)  and I haven’t had to tear my hair out (apart from the small bald patch at the back). It’s  a  bit like organising a wedding really, just without the bride and groom. There’s the venue, the  food, the entertainment, the invitations, the guests, and worrying about which old relative will make a fool of themselves after one too many at the bar!  At this stage though, I’m pretty sure everything’s covered.

Like weddings, TCANZ conferences are  months in the making and planning for this year’s event started over a year ago.  Once the National Committee settled on the south  it was all systems go. Bringing everyone to Christchurch is pretty exciting but finding a hotel with conference facilities was a mission. Our rebuild might have started but conference facilities are scarce, so we were thrilled to stumble into the part-completed Rydges in Latimer Square last year. One of the first hotels to be demolished and rebuilt after the earthquake, they promised us the conference centre would  be second to none and we were sold.  Extensive volunteer food and beverage QA testing followed and it was thumbs up all round.

Once we had a venue it was time to choose our conference presenters, an incredibly important job but  with so many great proposals and too little time in the schedule, disappointment had to follow. We knew we’d have to say no to a few great speakers even though they sounded fab, and sending those emails was the hardest thing. We are pretty pleased with our final line-up, and we managed to squeeze all our ‘yes’ speakers into the schedule – eventually!

Once the presenters were sorted,  the devil was in all the small details that create a successful event. Thankfully, there’s a a gang of TCANZ volunteers behind the scenes to assist – our  sponsorship coordinator Jo has brought in lots of sponsorship dollars,  our marketing team Emma, Claire and Rhi have spread the word on the website and through social media, our Business Manager keeps a firm hand on the budget (someone has to!), and we have volunteers putting together the conference delegate information, organising the front desk, the MCs, the techie stuff…and the list goes on.  It turns out it takes a village to prepare for a conference!

If you are coming to the conference  I’m pretty sure you’re going to learn some great stuff, hear some great ideas and be reinvigorated and excited about being part of tech comms. Sometimes it’s hard to feel that when you’re doing the day-to-day and, even if you love your job, it’s great to reconnect with (or find) your passion for what you do.

That’s what I love about a conference, I go back to work motivated and buzzing with ideas and ways to make what I do better.   See you in Christchurch, and if you haven’t registered there’s still time to do so here.

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