Considerations When Hosting a Large Group Event – Part Two: What I did well and lessons learned

Recently, I lent my skills to chair a large group event of 150 people. By sharing my thoughts on this experience, I intend to solidify my learning from the event and share this with others. This is the third post on a three post series.

In this post, I will go through some of the things I did in preparation and delivery to make the event successful as well as some of the follow-up activities involved.

Done Well:

  • Met with the organizing committee to identify their objectives and learn what they expected of me.
  • Wrote short introductions for each of the 8 speakers.
  • Wrote opening thoughts, closing comments, and an introduction to a short film we would be watching.
  • Emailed organizing committee representative to get feedback on the appropriateness of the comments and introductions.
  • Individually emailed the speakers to get feedback on their introduction.
  • Organized my speaking notes into mindmaps and placed them in plastic sleeves.
  • Rehearsed the delivery of the introductions before the event.
  • Arrived early on the event day to prepare lectern space, and support the organizing committee.
  • Talked to the venue personal about how to use the remote for the LCD projector.
  • Had conversations with most of the speakers prior to the event.
  • Introduced each speaker and led the applause for them on their arrival to the lectern.
  • Led the applause as each speaker returned to their seat and followed with some bridging comments before introducing the next speaker.
  • Attended the post event stand-up briefing with the organizing committee.
  • Prepared a blog post series to document and share what I learned from the event.

Lessons Learned
One thing that was reinforced with me was the value of meeting with an organizing committee, especially if you are not involved in the planning and design aspect of the event.  At first, I felt that these meetings were not critical to attend.  However, one aspect of a chairperson attending these meetings is to give confidence to the organizers.  These sessions also provided me with valuable background information that I used in my prepared introductions and comments as well as my improvised bridging comments.  For example, I learned that in the past, the Forest Service was more of a family outfit and that a big part of the organization was the contributions of spouses.  This information influenced me to give a tribute to spouses of Forest Service members when I introduced a presenter speaking on behalf of retiree members. 

For my speaking notes, I like to use mindmaps because their colors, key words, and pictures can be more quickly referenced than text in a paragraph or in bulleted sentences.  I also find putting speaking notes in a plastic sleeve helps you keep multiple pages together and they are more easily read when drifting away from a lectern than a single piece of paper which tends to flop and fold.  An alternative is to use cardstock paper; however, I find cardstock is not easily fed into some printers and it is more expensive and not always at hand.  I do put a piece of cardstock in the middle of my plastic sleeve to give my notes some rigidity. 

In the third and last post of this series, I will share with you some of my “Trickies.”  “Trickies” are either challenges or areas of improvement.  I’ll also offer some suggestions of what I will do differently during similar future events.  If you have comments to share or suggestions to add, kindly post them as a comment or email me directly at

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