Reflections on POP’s AGM Voices Hybrid Event

If the words ‘hybrid event’ are music to your ears or (more likely if you’re in charge of organising one) send you into a panic then I hope this blog might help!

POP works with grassroots organisations, charities and social enterprises by supporting them to work together and take a lead in creating change. We were excited to put together our 1st big ‘in-person’ event early November 2021.

Planning

During the planning stages, we realised that due to uncertainty with rising numbers in the Plymouth region the event might need to be cancelled or brought online. However, it’s important to keep planning as if the event will go ahead so that important decisions aren’t left to the last minute.

Although we planned carefully for a socially-distanced event, we wanted to be as inclusive as possible and fully include those who preferred to join via Zoom.

Content

If you’re inviting a speaker, think ahead as inspirational speakers get booked up way in advance. We were thrilled to secure Cormac Russell of Nurture Development Limited who was able to join live from Ireland via Zoom. As a non-profit organisation you need to consider your budget but aim to give members a really useful experience. We also had a Workshop given by one of POP’s Associates, Stephane Kolinsky of Sky Space Team Development and POP’s very own Administrator Deborah Penprase. Throughout the day, we invited some of the Neighbourhood Networks and Collectives that POP has been working with to display some of the great things they’ve been doing in our ‘Marketplace’.

Venue and Tech

Plymouth has some fantastic venues, many of which are available to hire by the hour or day and we decided on The Beacon in North Prospect. The Conference Suite was a great size with excellent ventilation options and a separate kitchen area allowing us to easily manage providing 2 tea/coffee stations and a lunch area for up to 70 attendees allowing socially distancing.

However, it’s important to test your tech in advance of the big event. We booked in for a layout and tech test which made it clear that we needed some extra support. We needed to show up to 70 attendees the speaker on screen and ensure the sound came out clearly. Ideally connection to a TV screen would be best but a laptop connected to a projector worked equally well.

Soundwise though we needed to hire in sound and microphone equipment which was an added expense but vital and would recommend Dave and Simon from Clockwork Audio for providing exactly what was needed.

Unfortunately WiFi was not performing as expected, which was a big problem so we found the solution by purchasing mobile broadband boxes – another big reason for testing in advance! This was an investment for the day and future events.

We also realised there wasn’t the right technical skills within the team so were very fortunate to be able to hire the services of Aaron Monk from Diverse Events to ensure things worked seamlessly on the day. It’s a great relief to have someone overseeing the sound and visual tech on the day!

On the day

Make sure everyone knows their ‘roles’ for the day in advance and have 1 person overseeing things. We were lucky to be able to do a full check in on sound/visual/layout the day before as Martin the Ranger at the Beacon had everything set up ready and was extremely helpful!

Be clear with any housekeeping points eg are you encouraging people to socially distance? We shared our Risk Assessment document prior to the day. The venue did not have any guidelines (as not needed at this time) but we wanted people to feel as comfortable and protected as possible.

Don’t forget to take lots of photos – we were very lucky to have the services of a photographer who volunteered to help.

Try to enjoy and talk to new contacts and old friends!

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Claire Law is Core Lead at POP helping organise events and internal operations. She is happy to help if anyone has any questions! Get in touch at claire@plymouthoctopus.org

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