2012 Leadership Conference Wrap up Archive

3

2012 Leadership Conference Thank You

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series2012 Leadership Conference Wrap up

Another great D7 conference is in the books. If you attended, please make sure to fill out the online feedback form. This conference had many changes in it.  I believe that most of the changes were good though there were a few lessons learned.  It takes a great team to accomplish such a large event.

This is the first in a few post to wrap up the conference.  Most importantly is a thank you for the conference team and all the volunteers who help out.   It takes a huge number of people to pull of the event and I owe each of them a HUGE thank you for making the day a success.

On the day of the event, the first volunteers show up before the sun comes up and the final volunteer leaves long after the sun has gone down.  Even if you can’t dedicate the time to be a member of the conference planning team, be a helper on the day of the event, come early, stay late, be an introducer, or a speaker, lots of opportunities at the event.   Here is a quick run down of the day of helpers, a big thank you to all the specific people that I mention and the ones that I’ll accidentally miss.

  • Waiting to greet everyone when they arrive is a team of registration helpers (Jacqueline , Simon, Vikki, and Rhonda, and the credentials team (Jim, Melissa, and Thomas)
  • 10 speakers delivered great sessions for us during the day
  • 9 area governors and members handling introductions(Sarah, Karen, Chris, Bob,  Ellen, Michelle, Ted, Cathey, and Cathy)
  • Each contest has a special group of helpers.  9 or more judges (I’ll avoid sharing their names), two timers (Cathy and Marylil), Sergeant at Arms (Brian, Daniel, and one more), Ballot counters, our award presentation helper, and a contest toastmaster (Michelle and Donna).
  • What would a contest be without the 9 contestants (Congratulations James and Eric on your wins!).
  • Our videographer is there to ensure that we have recordings of the event for use later.
  • There are also a number of auxiliary people such as Harvey, (our historian who sets up an incredible display), Marsha, Allen, Gabrielle, and several others involved with the prison club raffle drawings that have such a great benefit.

That is about 75 members  involved in making the conference happen on the day of the event, and without these people, we couldn’t pull the conference off. A huge thank you to all of the members who show up and help out.

Behind the scenes, another group exists that dedicate their time and energy for many phone calls, site visits, emails, and even in person meetings when needed.  This group is the core conference team.  They work together for several months to make each event memorable.  They also miss out on some or all of the days events however each still buys a ticket to the event.

  • Leanna Lindquist, Conference Director
  • Gladys Boutwell, Education Director
    • Candy Deane, Assisted managing speakers
    • Alan Finkemeier, Assisted managing rooms
  • Dick Moser, Audio, Visual, Stage, and Room Layout specialist
  • PJ Klefner, Registration Coordinator
  • Scott Stevenson, Credentials Coordinator
  • Traci Martel, Contest Chair
  • Erik Bergman, Chief Judge
  • Brenda Parsons, Webmaster
  • Lisa Hutton, District PRO
  • Rose Wellman DG, and Phyllis Harmon LGM

If you are interested in gaining leadership experience, the conference planning team is an incredible opportunity to do so.  Being a part of the conference team is how I got my real start into district service.  I met an incredible number of people who have supported me on my journey.  Contact me if you are interested in this or other opportunities within the district.

One of my goals this year is to provide insight on what we learned from the feedback from our major events. My next post will talk about the responses received from the online feedback form. Please take a moment to fill it out if you attended and haven’t yet provided your feedback.

 

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2012 Leadership: what was learned Pt.1

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series2012 Leadership Conference Wrap up

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to provide some guidance based on the feedback that was received to the members.  There are two major reasons for this.  First and foremost, I want every member who attends a District 7 event to know that their feedback will be read and considered (It always has been, I’m just adding responses to some of the data received).  Second it provides an opportunity to set expectations for upcoming events so that members are ready.

It’s still early in the process, if you haven’t yet submitted feedback about the conference, please do so now at the online form.  We have received feedback from 33% of attendees so far.  Reviews are coming back in rapidly.  Some central themes are coming up repeatedly so I will start with those.

Breakout Sessions

First off, the breakout sessions were rated incredibly well which is a reflection of the quality of the speakers and the effort they put forth. On a scale of 1 (needs improvement)  to 5 (excellent), 70% of the respondent so far rated the breakout sessions as a four or five.

One perennial issue is the desire to see breakout sessions that conflict.  On this front, I have great news, the spring event will have all speakers on one stage.   This will also alleviate the issue of having two speakers in tight quarters with noise crossing between their rooms.

Friday Night

I was surprised by how many have people specifically called out to bring back the Friday night event.  It was a challenge of where to put it on when there isn’t a hotel right near the facility for the event.   In August when we first discussed the Spring 2013 conference, it was a central part of the plan.

Location Signage

The regular D7 signs were no match for a November blustery day.  The ones that were up blew over shortly after they were put back up.  This should be an easier fix to get something mounted right at the entrance to the facility for future events.

The Schedule

The suggestions for scheduling are always all over the place.   Some members prefer to network and socialize at the district conferences while others want to pack in as much learning as possible with barely enough time to grab a drink of water between the events.

We continue to try and find the right balance and I’m open to all suggestions about how to balance this.  I have one idea in my head for the spring conference that might help but would love to hear specific suggestions that anyone has for balancing the mix of socialization with the desire to pack the day as tightly as possible (Use the lget@ address to reach me)

Chairs

Several people commented on the chairs.  This isn’t limited to just this event or facility.  We had the same complaint at the Oregon Convention Center where the chairs are many steps above the ones that we had in Brooks.  I don’t think that the solution will be found with better chairs (Unless someone has connections at Lazy boy in which case lets talk sponsorship).   I think that we will need to find ways to incorporate some activities that will have people out of their chairs to break up the longer sections of the event.

Costs

The registration price was significantly lower this year.  This is one issue that I am watching very closely to see the response on how people perceived the location (Brooks), the facility (Brooks Regional Training Facility), and the food at the event.  Once more of the feedback is in, I’ll take a hard look at these issues and determine if the tradeoffs were worth it.

Looking Forward

The spring conference is already in the works.  Announcements will be coming out soon.  Keep an eye out on your email inbox for those. We already have a location and keynote.  The Friday night event will have something new this year that I think people will be very excited for.

 

 

1

2012 Leadership: what was learned Pt.2

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series2012 Leadership Conference Wrap up

The last six conferences have all been held in Downtown Portland at various facilities.  Each one was able to host a “premier” class event.  For the Fall conference this year, I wanted to break that mold and experiment in several different ways to see how adjusting different aspects of the event would reflect the feedback at the end of the event.  One word can sum up every issue, COST. Each of these factors had a tremendous affect on the cost of the event and that was directly reflected in the price members paid. Looking at the feedback, the question now is was it worth it.

Physical Location

The first goal in reducing the event cost was to reconsider the type of location that we hosted the event at.  Conference centers and hotels with event centers charge a large amount for food and beverages.  On top of that  all food and beverage charges have about a 20% up charge for the service fee.  In order to execute on my vision for the fall conference, Conference centers and hotels with event centers were excluded because of the expense of hosting there.

The goal wasn’t to move the event outside of Portland specifically, but I did target the southern end of Portland (Wilsonville to Tigard).   Leanna Lindquist (Conference Chair) and I each reviewed many locations and progressively widened the search area.

The chart isn’t the whole story though, I also want to include some comparison on the affect that moving the event outside Portland had on the attendance.  Did we loose attendees from Portland and Washington and was it made up for by attendees who were now closer to the event.

We saw 10% shift from zip code starting with 972 and move to zip codes starting with 973, 975, and surprisingly, 986 (Washington).   I take this to mean that for anyone who required any type of transportation to the event, the reduced cost increased their likelihood of attending.  For the members closest to previous events, having to travel did decrease their participation slightly.

Facility Choice

Just before the spring conference, I came across the Brooks Regional Training Facility while searching.   After an initial site visit and review of the expected costs, I knew that this was the facility to use.   It offered a significant decrease in rental fees that even after offsetting renting tables reduced the rate by about $1000 and the food price reduced the event fees by about $20 per person.  That allowed us to open event registration at $35 for people attending TLI in June. This was the biggest cost savings that we were able to achieve.

On this, I firmly believe that having three breakout speakers per session would have resulted in a much higher rating of the facility.  Specifically, having sessions in rooms with an air wall between them was a mistake and is the one thing looking back that I would have changed. This showed up in the evaluations of the afternoon sessions especially due to the noise traveling between the rooms.

Keynote Speaker

Our district is filled with great speakers and I love featuring them.  When we began looking for our keynote speaker for the event, my goal was to find someone local who could deliver a great speech to kick off the event.  When Anne-Louise Sterry’s name came up, she was exactly what I wanted.  After attending her keynote, she was so much more.

This graph shows the rating in feedback for her keynote.  I don’t believe any keynote that I’ve had feedback from has rated so highly.  She was entertaining, energetic, and she had everyone out of their chairs singing and dancing.

You might be wondering what the keynote has to do with conference cost since Toastmasters International Policy prohibits paying speaking fees.  When we bring in a great keynote from another areas, the conference has to cover the transportation and lodging expenses.  That’s not cheap and can be up to $1000 added to the conference expense sheets.

Printing costs

I didn’t see any comments on the program for the event.  That alone was reassuring that switching to a smaller factor and less pages was a good decision.  The cost of printing this years booklet was about 50% of the previous conference. Gladys Boutwell worked a great deal with Minute Man Press for the district for us to have the booklets printed in color at a rate that I had budged as black and white.

Summary

In light of all this, one question remains. Was it worth it.  On this, I firmly believe that this was the right direction for the district to take.   The Spring conference will be a “premier” event.  It will be located in downtown Portland at an elegant facility that will have all the nice touches.  I mentioned previously that the Friday night event will be back.  For the International Speech Contest, I think it’s the right thing to do to have the bigger event with the special touches.

Work is already starting on the Spring event.  Registration will be open soon.  If you want to be part of an amazing team planning and executing spectacular conference events, please reach out to me online or at any D7 event.  If you need to email me, you can use the lget address at the d7toastmasters.org domain.

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