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GuideToEventActivities

Page history last edited by maymay 10 years, 8 months ago


 

Event Activities: Running A Successful KinkForAll

 

The key to running a successful KinkForAll is to remember that your goal organized chaos. KinkForAll is a free-form free-for-all exchange of ideas and information, but occurs within a tightly regimented model and plan. As an unorganizer, your role is to create and support a flexible framework that will enable participants to engage to their fullest.

 

In the days before your event, you'll want to provide your participants with logistical information about the venue, what to expect at the event, the timing of presentations, and other details. For examples of these kinds of emails, you should examine these threads from the mailing list, which were sent 2-4 days before KinkForAllNewYorkCity:

 

 

The basic premise of logistical information will remain the same across KinkForAll events, as it is focused on making sure that the event adheres to the philosophies and model of KinkForAll. However, you should also include individualized information as it becomes available to you.

 

Not everyone who comes to the event will be subscribed to the KinkForAll mailing list, so be sure to repeat essential information at your Opening Essential Communications (that's what they're there for). Encourage everyone present for the opening essential communications to help others who will join you later in the day without as clear an idea of what's going on.

 

Sourcing and encouraging leadership for coordinated efforts

 

It will be helpful to designate lead contacts on the day of the event, so that participants will have channels to go through for issues they cannot resolve themselves. Rather than rigidly designate leaders well in advance, let leaders emerge organically. Leadership is about action, not a title; remember that KinkForAll is a do-ocracy.

 

Common areas in need of coordination that are enhanced by having dedicated leadership are as follows.

 

  • Participants (people in general and specific volunteers): a leader in this role should actively be helping keep the event running on a schedule, especially by organizing and supporting timekeepers, funneling donations of food and equipment to appropriate places, and acting as a mediator for conflicts and issues between participants, if any arise. 
  • A venue contact: a leader in this role should be liaising with the venue or organization physically hosting a KinkForAll, as well as acting as a point of contact for the venue itself and handling any issues concerning said venue. It's vital that KinkForAll events address concerns originating from the hosting organization in a thoughtful and informed manner, so the venue contact should be familiar with WhatToExpect at a KinkForAll; it's best if this person has already participated in one or more events.
  • A technical/telecommunications coordinator: a leader in this role needs to capably maintain physical equipment, especially Internet connectivity, and should be comfortable troubleshooting ad-hoc computer networks, as well as providing assistance to participants in need of technical help.
  • An Audio/Visual coordinator: a leader in this role should be helping participants record their presentation. A/V leaders often have and bring their own microphones and video cameras.

 

One participant may tackle one or more of these areas as their capabilities allow. Additionally, other areas that require highly coordinated efforts may emerge and you should encourage the people who show the most initiative, capability, and success to adopt a leadership stance in these activities rather than trying to do everything yourself (because you just won't be able to).

 

Ideally, every KinkForAll event will have a full complement of unorganizing participants from the beginning—each person taking actions to move the event forward as they are best equipped to do. In reality, especially in locations where most people will not have prior experience participating at a KinkForAll unconference, a few people will often take the lead first, and others will be slow to follow (even when others are fast to speak up). Try to empower everyone who shows interest to do what they can for the event as early as possible. Delegate work by showing people that their skills are valuable, and the workload will be evenly spread, making for an event that is anticipated by all and unduly stressed over by none.

 

Creating the Schedule Grid, Where to Put Name Tags, and Other Items

 

There are a elements common to all KinkForAll events. These include a large vertical space (white board, expanse of wall, whatever you got) bearing the ScheduleGrid, a table with name tags, signs containing necessary information about the event and the venue, and generally a table for food and one for stationary technology (wireless routers, laptops streaming video, digital projectors, etc.).

 

  • The Schedule Grid is the visual depiction of all of the time-slots in  all of the spaces in which participants can present. Each participant who wants to present will write their name and the name of their presentation onto a sticky note and place it in the slot indicating when and in what room they want to give their presentation. New presentations can be added as long as their are open slots. Read about how to create the Schedule Grid .
  • Information Table:
    • This should be the obvious first stop for anybody entering the event. It's where name tags are (ideally, everyone will have a name tag with something written on it), and where any rules of the venue will be posted. It should also have information about recording at KinkForAll events, as well as very clear instructions for how to identify yourself if you are uncomfortable being recorded. Generally this is done by providing a single colored sticker (a bright orange dot as can be found in large packs at Staples, for instance) which people who do not wish to be recorded can add to their name tags. To cut down on confusion provide only one color sticker.
  • Food and Tech Tables DSCN1956
    • These are fairly self explanatory; donations of food and drink should be put in a single central location, and it should be noted what dishes have allergens such as nuts, and which are vegan or vegetarian. Tech being provided for event use should also, where possible, be put in a single central location. The food an the tech should not be in the same location.

 

Timekeepers and Their Role

 

Although you can rely upon spontaneous volunteers to take care of smaller administrative tasks on the day of the event, it is a good idea to reach out to participants beforehand and source dedicated volunteers to do event timekeeping.

 

A timekeeper makes an announcement 3 minutes prior to the end of the current presentation slot announcing what the locations and titles of the presentations in the next slot. 

 

For further information on how to keep time at a KinkForAll, check out the GuideToTimeKeeping.

 

Essential Communications

 

A part of the very first time slot in the morning and a part of the very last time slot in the afternoon are reserved for opening and closing remarks, called essential communications. In a sentence, essential communications (or essential comms for short) are things participants need to know to make sure they can make the most of their time and contribute positively to the environment. That is, "things people need to know to be present at KinkForAll and not break it or themselves."

 

The EssentialCommunications page makes suggestions as to what information unorganizers should consider making participants aware of when they make essential comms announcements. As a general rule of thumb, remember that essential communications are precisely that: communiqués considered essential. This is not the time to make long speeches, give a keynote, or wax poetic about a particular topic; essential comms should take an unorganizer no more than 10 minutes on average to get through.

 

An example of opening and closing essential communications can be heard from the recordings of KinkForAll New York City.

 

Resolving Problems On-The-Fly

 

No matter how well you prepare for it, there will be problems at your KinkForAll event. The venue will throw something new at you, the Internet will be wonky, everyone will be thirsty and there won't be working drinking fountains, you will realize you need more signs than you anticipated, or something else may surprise you. None of these problems are insurmountable. With luck, everyone who notices a problem will work to fix it. If you notice a problem you can easily fix yourself, do so. If not, take stock of those around you and find out who can. The best way to do that is by asking for help from people near you.

 

Dealing with People Problems

 

There may also be people problems. If you're the person who sent the first e-mail, who gave the Opening EssentialCommunications and set up the information table (or if you're one of just a few to do these things), any problems that come up during a specific event may be addressed to you. These might be from people who attended previous KinkForAll events and are looking to advise you or objecting to different ways of handling details. They might be from people who have never been to an event like this and weren't really prepared for WhatToExpect. They might even be from concerned members of the populace or people who object to the nature of the event.

 

Do not take issues addressed to you personally. There are countless little logistical problems you have already worked through to make this event happen. Again, take stock of your resources, do what you can. Trust in your judgement, and if you can't do that, find somebody whose advice you're willing to take. Remember that nothing is insurmountable, and a few ruffled feathers does not make the day a failure.

 

Clean Up and Tear-Down Activities

 

Some points of things that may not happen and really need to happen:

 

  • The venue must be left clean. It's tremendously important to be respectful of our venues, which means that if the chairs were stacked when we came in, they're stacked when we go out. Food is not left around. Generally clean up is super quick; announce that everyone is joining in at the end of your Closing Essential Communications, and set-to. After a successful day, participants are likely to be so invested that you may find yourselves leaving the venue cleaner when you leave than when you've arrived.
  • Be certain the information on the Schedule Grid is saved. This can be done digitally or otherwise, but it is needed well after the event is over in order to create the Schedule archive pages for your event. See, for instance, KinkForAllNewYorkCitySchedule.
  • Remind people to put their media online, properly tagged. There is alot of great media—blog entries and live blogs, tweets and videos—captured at a good KinkForAll unconference. Ideally, all this will be posted online so that people who could not make it to the event will still be able to benefit from it. It helps to get it posted quickly, and it's immeasurably useful to have the stuff properly tagged so that it can be easily archived and curated.

 

For more information about what to do after your KinkForAll is over, read the GuideToPost-eventActivities.

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