Tips for Organising a Conference/Workshop/Event

Some guidance on room bookings, catering, budgeting, and accessibility when organising an event. Let us know if you’ve anything to add, or any specific questions not covered!

 

Budgeting and funding your event

There are a number of sources funding for postgraduate events to apply to, including:

For the majority of funding applications you will need a detailed provisional budget. Some tips for putting this together:

  • How many people are you expecting in attendance?
  • Consider what the ‘essentials’ are for running your event, e.g. catering, access requirements, any travel expenses.
  • Ask for quotations from caterers, childcare services etc, and look up any printing costs in advance of the application.
  • Provide specific figures in your funding application. This will demonstrate that you have researched your costs, and that they are realistic, improving your chances at success.
  • Many funding bodies are keen to encourage ECR participation and so if you are planning to provide a bursary, you may wish to think about the size of the audience you expect, and the proportion of these who would need to apply for travel assistance.
  • Since you will likely not receive all you request, you may wish to outline the maximum amount you will require.

 

Venues

Venues at the University of Sheffield are generally booked up months in advance, so you should aim to get a venue booked as early as possible. You may be able to access room bookings through MUSE, otherwise you can contact: roombookings@sheffield.ac.uk

To book the HRI (Humanities Research Institute), use the following form, and they will respond within a few days: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/hri/bookingform

Some suggestions relating to the accessibility of your venue can be found below.

The University now requires all external speakers to be declared via an external speaker form.

 

Accessibility

A few things to consider in the organisation of your conference to make it as widely accessible as possible. If you notice anything missing, please get in touch so we can update the list!

  • Are you charging a registration free? If so, can your budget accommodate a bursary for the unwaged/ECRs/PGRs?
  • To accommodate working parents, will your event be ‘child friendly’, and/or can your budget accommodate a bursary for childcare? Get in touch for more tips on child-friendly conferences.
  • Does your venue have step free access?
  • Have you checked whether your venue has working audiovisual equipment, such as microphones, projector screens, and hearing aid loops?
  • Does the venue have accessible toilets?
  • Does your venue have gender neutral toilets?
  • Are you accommodating allergies and dietary requirements in your catering?
  • Would be possible to have a ‘quiet room’ within the venue, for those who may need it?
  • Will there be alternatives to networking sessions for those to whom networking poses a particular problem?
  • Have your briefed your participants on presenting accessibly? E.g., reds and greens can be difficult to make out for colourblind audience members, and dark backgrounds with coloured text are often difficult for the visually impaired. For more extensive information on presenting accessibly, the Disability Research Forum have put together this list of guidelines.

 

Catering

gUSto is the University of Sheffield’s event catering service, and you can view their menus and price lists, and place orders through their website.

Alternatively, some local businesses which have catered university events include (but obviously aren’t limited to):

  • PJ Taste
  • Appetito
  • Blue Moon

When budgeting for your catering, check prices per head, and whether these are inclusive of VAT (particularly if using non-University catering), as this will affect your overall budget.

The AHPGR Forum also has 2 tea/coffee urns which are open for A&H PGRs to use for events. Please contact use for more information.

 

The Program of Events

Organising the timetable of an event can be frustrating, and things often change at the last minute, and even on the day, when participants’ travel plans are disrupted, they need to pull out of the event, or an activity runs over.

Some things to consider to help things run smoothly:

  • Will participants attending from outside Sheffield be able to make the beginning of the programme if they are arriving on the day? If not, will they still be able to register/pop in?
  • Are things running at the same time? Is it possible to arrange proceedings so that people won’t be ‘torn’ between concurrent activities?
  • If your event is child friendly, can you ensure that there is a ‘child-friendly’ activity running as often as possible?
  • Can your schedule accommodate things running over their allotted time? Is there anything booked in your venue immediately afterwards?
  • Do you have time to greet caterers, help clear up, etc?

 

Publicising your event

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram can be useful for getting the word out. Some useful hashtags to help circulate can be found here.

If you want your event to have a website, blogging sites are often free to set up, and some, such as WordPress, allow you to embed contact forms for registration. Eventbrite is also helpful for registration/ticketing.

Live Tweeting your event is one way to keep those unable to attend in the loop with proceedings, with a hashtag unique to your conference. Another is to stream or otherwise film parts of the day. In either case, make sure your participants are happy for this to take place!

 

Tickets

The choice to sell tickets is difficult. Your event is far more accessible to unwaged, postgraduate and early career attendees if it is free.

On the other hand, charging for registration helps keep track of numbers and may make people more committed to attending on the day. Registration fees can also help make up shortfalls in funding.

If you want to charge for registration, then you should register your event via the University of Sheffield.

 

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