Programming your first Event – programming, scheduling and promotion

Promoting your First Event – programming, scheduling and promotion
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Now that you have learned about the cultural/manufacturing heritage of your local community, and you’ve identified some people who might be willing to help, as well as people whom you’d ideally like to cater for, you can start to programme your first events.

1. Set a regular date and time

Setting a regular day(s) and times for your events in advance will help you to  devise a schedule and will enable people to plan their participation properly. Hint: Call your regular event ‘Maker Monday’, ‘Maker Tuesday’ or ‘Maker Wednesday’ etc. after the regular day(s) of the week. If the day is in the title, it will be easier for people to remember. You can add the theme/maker’s name to the title later if you wish. 

2. Create an online advance publicity framework

To stimulate interest and participation, publish details of events online as well as in prominent physical locations as much in advance as you possibly can – e.g. on your new Facebook page or on Eventbrite (to create one go to http://www.eventbrite.com/).

To begin with, your posts can be just generic text, including an overview of the ethos, purpose and shape of the event. You can go back and edit each event when you have more detailed information about it, in terms of its leader, venue, timings and equipment needed etc. Hint:  See an example here from The Waiting Room

3. Find your makers/teachers

Begin by approaching makers and hackers from your research and community engagement events, and book those who are able and willing to run events in exchange for the opportunity to promote themselves and their area of interest. Try to programme at least 3-6 months in advance, subject to the intended frequency of your events. Makers should be given the option of doing either an Interactive Lesson or a Show & Tell event. A Show & Tell event is just a presentation, whereas an Interactive Lesson will be a workshop where people ‘get their hands dirty’ by making something. Once you have appointed your teachers, you can edit your online publicity and distribute any printed posters etc. for individual or multiple events, if required.

Hint:  Consider making each teacher a co-host of the Facebook event concerned so that they can help edit and publicise it as well.

4. Help your teachers to plan good lessons

Ask each teacher to plan their workshops at least one month in advance. For interactive workshops, create a lesson plan or workshop structure for your makers to follow. You will find that this puts them at ease, improves the quality of delivery, and can prevent avoidable problems where members of your community have little or no prior experience of presenting in public to an audience.

Generally, a maker/teacher’s interactive workshop plan should always include the following steps/items:

  • A list of equipment and materials, including any necessary personal protective clothing and equipment (and state who provides it);
  • A list of any hand-outs required;
  • An introduction to what he/she makes;
  • An introduction to his/her work;
  • An overview of what the group will be doing and achieving in the workshop;
  • An example of the end product;
  • Phases and key steps – identify key points to walk round the room, stop and talk to people and take questions;
  • A schedule of breaks if the workshop session will be more than 2 hours long;
  • A description of how the workshop will be concluded; and
  • Information about how participants can stay in touch, learn more or access advice/support afterwards.

5. Follow-up publicity

After the event is over, publicise how it went as widely as possible. Share pictures on your website, blog or Facebook page and write a blog post. If appropriate, contact stakeholders and the media. Remember to get the consent of those whose pictures you plan to use. Hint: If a workshop series is particularly successful, you might also want to to invite local media to provide coverage

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