Positive Impact Society Erasmus (PISE) recently organized a preparation evening for EAGx Oxford. To my knowledge, not many groups organize these types of evenings. In this short post I will outline why I think organizing such an evening for every EAG(x) should be prioritized and what our preparation evening looked like.
Why organizing a preparation evening should be prioritized
- It allows newcomers to understand how to prepare and get the most out of a conference – it would be a shame if newcomers don’t realize how valuable one-on-ones are and spend their whole weekend in talks without speaking to anyone new (speaking from experience).
- It gives people the accountability to actually sit down and prepare the conference.
- It is a great opportunity to exchange goals and approaches and get feedback on them.
PISE’s EAG(x) Oxford preparation evening
Our preparation evening took place the Wednesday before EAGx Oxford. We started the evening with dinner followed by a presentation and a collaborative preparation of the evening. The presentation had the following components:
- Pictures and the experiences of an organizer who attended an EAG(x) before.
- Answers to: What is an EAG(x)? What does it look like? What can you expect?
- Tips for the EAG(x), for example:
- Bring a notebook
- Don’t be afraid of cool people
- Don’t be afraid to ask if you can record a one-on-one for later reference
- Prepare well
- Skip recorded talks
- Plan a lot of one-on-ones
- Recognise the amount of rest/breaks you need to get the most out of the conference
- Schedule time after the conference to follow-up, reflect, and get started on to do’s.
- Keep a page at the end of your notebook in which you can write down concrete to do’s.
After the presentation, we individually worked on the steps to prepare an EAG(x). Once everyone had had some time to reflect on a step, there was the opportunity to share with the group and get feedback. The steps were as follows:
- Claim your ticket– we asked people to do this before coming to the evening.
- Arrange you travels and upload your vaccination certificate – we asked people to do this before coming to the evening.
- Make a great Swapcard profile – we asked people to do this before coming to the evening.
- Set goals and think of questions you would need answered to achieve the goal – questions we provided for people to define their goals were: What do you want to get out of the conference? What did you fill in as the ideal outcome of the conference?
- Sign up for the workshops (and talks) you want to go to based on your goals.
- Start exploring Swapcard profiles: who are the people that can answer the questions you need answered to reach your goals? Reach out to those people for a meeting. Reach out to at least 7 people.
- Block a timeslot for after the conference to follow-up, reflect, and get started on your to do’s.
What we think could be improved from our evening
- Host the evening earlier in the week – the evening is great for getting started reaching out for one on ones, but might not be sufficient in time to prepare everything. Hosting the session on the Monday or Tuesday before an EAG(x) allows participants more time to continue with their preparation.
We think preparing such an evening can significantly improve the EAG(x) experience of your members and can be very impactful. Please let me know if you have any questions, I’d love to help. See you at the next conference!
We also did this for EA France a few days before EAGx Oxford (on Tuesday), and it was indeed very helpful. We answered many questions that people had about 1o1, explained how to use Swapcard (some people hadn't quite realized how important it would be during the conference), the 'etiquette' for contacting people on the app, important physical & mental health tips, etc.
I'd also suggest creating a WhatsApp or Messenger group. It's very useful for practical coordination before (hotels, admin stuff, COVID restrictions, etc.) and during the event, and gives first-timers the feeling of going to the conference as part of a larger group.