Lessons from APM 2010

From ilriapm2010 ilriwikis

Lessons from APM 2010 - Use online registration – there was some reluctance among group to use this but it worked well in the end. Set an early deadline for registration – mid –March – but expect around 25% to register late. Flight details will come in late – don’t expect them at registration - Start organizing in late January – alert staff about APM in early Feb. 10 weeks lead time is about right. - Air tickets could have been issued in Addis - this would have simplified a lot of things - Per diems could also have been issued in Addis to streamline the procedure - Organize outside speakers early and be clear about what is expected of them. - Use a wiki to minimize e-mail traffic – insist people use it. Later on it was less critical - Use google calendar to produce programme – simple and clear. - Getting involvement of some staff in formulating the programme was difficult since many were travelling in run-up to APM – needs to be considered when recruiting APM committee. Could have people involved for certain key periods only. - Programme Committee needs good mix of thinkers and doers. - Delegate, delegate, delegate. Split logistics and programme to avoid science staff having to spend excessive time in logistics discussions. - Do a thorough and realistic dry run of the main venue including seating, sound, projection, podium, video linking, waterproofing at least one month in advance. - Don’t neglect the important “getting to know ILRI people and programme” aspect of APM”. The team building aspect is important. Try and get a good balance between fun and serious. - Try and keep people on campus for evening events by running them soon after close of main sessions. The social aspects were highly appreciated. But make sure buses are scheduled to run late since some people wanted to leave mid-evening while others would have stayed all night. Social events went on until mid-night. - Brown bag meetings are an important element of APM. People worried before that there would be too many brown bags but in the end they went well. Quality of food in lunches should be a priority. - Plan for some free space in the programme and places to meet with tea/coffee e.g. informal infocentre locations. - Market place should include outsiders to run stands – also have some non-science stands: tourism, craft etc to enhance carnival atmosphere. Run mini-workshops and hard talks through the Marketplace. Mini-workshops were popular. Schedule these later in the programme to increase participation – people want to see the stands before drifting to other events. Beware of overlap of workshops and hard talks - people want to be able to go to both. Think carefully about welcoming external visitors and making sure they know what is going on. - There were a few problems with delegates not receiving their bags from hotels. Might be better to distribute these in the venue on the first day. If this strategy is used, programme needs to be sent in advance. - Make sure the NRS staff council is in a mutually comprehensible language although this is not necessarily an APM committee responsibility. - Time keeping is critical – draw up a fairly detailed schedule for each session. - Arrange a bell to get people back into sessions. And be realistic. Might be good to have a longer coffee break for the first day since there is a lot of buzz, excitement, catching up etc. - Keep paper to a minimum – we only handed out a 1 page programme and a 1 page “APM essentials” sheet. - Pin copies of programme around the campus. - Having a 3 person core-organizing team was a great innovation – good to share the load. - We ran a survey related to the APM topic prior to APM – this helped get people in the mood. - Build the hype in run-up to APM using online surveys and messages to all participants – but don’t overdo it. - Daily Tail (newsletter) brought together a good team – great engagement. Could have been more session reporting. Need to consider use vs time investment and entertainment value vs. science content. - Social reporting from sessions had great potential but we lost some stuff. Need to think about more permanent method of capturing what went on. Delegating bloggers – a different person for each session to avoid overload – could have worked. - All powerpoints, films etc should go online post-APM - Give some attention to strong visuals around campus. Helps atmosphere. Also helps to crystallize thinking in run-up to APM - IT support was critical – would be good to have ITC representation on core committee. - Would also be good to have finance and engineering people on the core committee. - We had a separate logistics committee but some felt that it tended to repeat the business of the core committee. - Very feasible to have interaction from outside using virtual conference tools. This aspect could be expanded to save costs. - Use “conference genie” for phone conferences to allow callers from multiple locations. - Think hard about using session formats that involve interaction – e.g. world cafes, buzz groups, games, role playing etc. Needs to keep balance between fun and serious. Restrict length of powerpoints to 7 minutes. Have a specified format for PPTs with a limited number of well defined slides was good. - New staff introductions take longer than expected. New staff need to be personally approached prior to each session. - Poster session needs to have dedicated slot where authors stand next to posters and discuss. - Good to have an MC member on programme committee – aids communication. Good also to have a discussion with MC at an early stage of programme development to avoid going down too many blind alleys and wasting time. - Arrange a transparent budget approved well in advance. - Involving Board and Science Advisors in sessions was very positive.

Alan Duncan, Peter Ballantyne, Bruno Gerard and the rest of the Core Committee