How to run a #techcomm conference

People have been saying some very kind things to me about TCUK 2013, so I thought I might share my experiences to help others who might want to do something similar in the future.

Lots of people have thanked me for putting TCUK together, but I want to set the record straight. I didn’t do everything myself – far from it. TCUK is run by a volunteer team, supported by the same association management company that does all the administration for the ISTC itself. Without Elaine and Claire in the office we wouldn’t have TCUK.

I didn’t personally select the presentations from the many proposals we received. That was done by the programme committee, a group of volunteers who met via conference calls, which was ably chaired by Colum McAndrew.

There was a wider group of volunteers who helped with the website, with social media, and with marketing efforts, and we’d love to add new volunteers to our team for 2014. In particular, we’d welcome people familiar with WordPress to help with our website, and people who are Twitter regulars to help with social media. We are also very keen to find volunteers with a flair for writing marketing copy for various channels. There are other ways you can help as well, so please get in touch.

As the Conference Chair (just a fancy term for team leader) there were a few things that I had to do myself (such as find the venue, agree the budget, invite the keynote speakers, and find the surprise entertainment for the Gala Dinner evening – nothing critical!) but mainly I was responsible for making sure things got done. I have a very long and growing list of things that needed doing, and I just had to remind people about them. (Of course, Elaine and Claire usually needed to remind me to remind people first!)

It’s difficult to know how to judge the success of TCUK. Financially, TCUK is run on a not-for-profit basis, so success could be defined as not losing money. TCUK 2012 did generate a small surplus, and it looks like TCUK 2013 is in a similar position, though it’s too early to know the exact figures. In terms of the success of our content we are currently looking at the feedback we’ve received (thorough comment cards at the event and through our feedback survey) to see what we can improve for next year. But the most encouraging thing is that delegates, speakers and sponsors come back to TCUK year after year, so I think we must be doing something right.

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6 Responses to How to run a #techcomm conference

  1. I think David you do not make enough of just how much effort you put in to making TCUK a success. Probably you are the only one who knows how many hours were spent emailing and phoning people. All of this had to be done on top of your paid job. You conference role may well have amounted to being a Team Leader and just doing Elaine and Claire’s bidding, but it had to be done by someone. The success of TCUK is a team effort but every team must have someone willing to lead it. It is not an easy job, but it is easy to overlook how difficult it is.

    • David Farbey says:

      Hi Colum,
      Thanks for your comment. The truth is I didn’t want to explain exactly how much of my free time I spent on TCUK because then I’d never find anyone willing to take on the job after me….:-)

  2. Hi David,

    This was my first ISTC conference and I can say, without any hesitation, that it was the best conference I’ve ever been to. I enjoyed meeting so many new-to-me people and I had a hard time deciding which talk to go to because they all piqued my interest in one way or another. I had such a great time that, as soon as I arrived back in Canada, I was sending an email to Elaine asking how I can help! Can’t wait for next year!


    • David Farbey says:

      Hi Monique,
      Thank you so much for your kind comments. It’s really great to know you got so much out of TCUK, and I look forward to seeing you again next year. As for helping out – we’ll definitely be in touch!

  3. Ian Ampleford says:

    Hi David

    Many thanks to you, Elaine, Claire, and all others involved for the excellent organization before and during the conference. I enjoyed the event enormously. There were some great presentations and there were times I wished that I could be in two places at once. I’ll see you next year.

    Thanks again

  4. Noz Urbina says:

    Hi David,

    Just wanted to add my praise to the pile. It was a seamless, educational and enjoyable event.

    Thank you for your efforts,

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