It's been six months since the 2018 Mountain Medicine Advanced Course and we've had a chance to reflect! Here are seven things that might help those planning to run something similar in the future!
1 - Take It On The Chin – After all the effort you’ve put in it’s easy to sit back and ignore the feedback! Take a deep breath and start as soon as you can. Rather than dwell on the positive comments focus on the negatives. Look for patterns. Amongst a 100 feedback forms there will be one or two “leftfield” comments that can probably be ignored (“I didn’t like the font…”), but if there are 20 or 30 comments with the same theme then you’re going to need to take a closer look and work out what needs to be done!
2 - Keep It Short – A lecture of an hour or more is a thing of the past! Audiences want short, sharp talks that last no more than 15 or 20 minutes. Films break things up but shouldn’t last more than 5 or 10 minutes each. Debates and Quizzes can be longer – especially if there’s something good to argue about!
3 - Speak Up and Be Seen – Your speakers need to be seen and heard. In all but the smallest of meetings use a professional AV company – choose the best projector and sound system you can and delegate some poor soul to oversee it! Spare microphones make it easy to switch between speakers. Roaming microphones make it possible for questions from the front row to be heard at the back. Don’t forget to have a pointer and slide advancer and always have spare batteries available!
4 - Go Green – Your audience will really appreciate any effort to go green. Most have smart phones or tablets these days and don’t need handouts or paper copies of the programme. If you’re providing food try to use compostable plates, cups and cutlery. Overall they can be a little bit more expensive but they’re really appreciated. Use local suppliers for food, drink and services and choose a venue that has good public transport links.
5 - Don’t Be Surprised – When you have a large numbers of speakers and attendees there will be surprises! You’ll get requests for all kinds of things. People will forget their sleeping bag, towel or make up. Some will want last minute gluten free vegan meals. Others will turn up unannounced and want a place or cancel at the last minute and ask for a refund. Take it all in you stride and do what you can. You can’t solve everything!
6 – Try To Keep To Time – The organizer’s favourite speaker is the one who keeps to time, or even better, finishes early! Time slips through a course organizers fingers quicker than sand. Start promptly and choose a moderator who can keep their eye on the clock. If time is still short, reduce the number of questions and hurry people through breaks.
7 – Be Prepared – In 2016 we had about 60 people attending across the three days, two years later we had 120. It’s just not possible to manage both in the same way. Trust us, we’ve tried! For larger numbers you need a separate email account together with an online booking and payment service. Better still, find someone to manage it all for you! Leading up to 2018 I had emails from four different Matthew’s on one day. Naturally, there was some confusion!
The inaugural Hathersage Mountain Medicine Festival will take place in June 2020. Keep an eye on the blog for updates!
Thanks to Heather Reynolds for the picture of Kilimanjaro!