Organising an event

The road getting there...

Posted by Rex de Koning on Monday, March 6, 2023

How did I get involved in Scottish Summit

For me, the journey started in February of 2020. I had heard about this event that was going to happen in Glasgow. Decided to go there as an attendee together with a colleague. It was my first international event, and my first event of this size.

It made quite an impression on me as a big introvert… All those people, the travel, and between session I needed some time to wander off on my own to refuel a bit. But the people, the atmosphere and the speakers and sessions… I had a blast.

To other next great thing about this event was, that about a week after the event everything went into lockdown because of Covid-19. But at time I already knew, I want to go back.

Then in 2021 it wasn’t much better with the whole Covid situation, the Scottish Summit went on but unfortunately I was struck rather bad with it during the same time as the Summit went on virtually. I was so sick at that time I couldn’t event attend virtual. But I knew my time would come.

By then I ‘decided’ that I wanted to work on myself and put myself a bit more out there, because seeing all those people do sessions about all kinds of interesting stuff made me want to do it…. I little hurdle though, for someone to do that, you need be on stage talking at/with a lot of people, I was already glad if I made it through a birthday celebration and talking to people I knew…. So that needed some work.

By that time I already perused my CTT+ accreditation and was a MCT. Therefor I could deliver some trainings and found that I found that really enjoyable, although it were small groups, it really lifted my confidence.

Scottish Summit 2022

And then… there a post on Twitter somewhere in the summer of 2021, asking for volunteered for Scottish Summit 2022. This was my chance, I filled out the form and waited. To my great joy I was selected for as one of the volunteers for the event. Having no idea what to do, I just dove in. In the running up to the event we had several meetings via teams so at least it was known who we would work with during the event. Around that same time a colleague with more speaking experience came to me and said, listen if you want to go there anyway why not submit some sessions and also submit some together if you don’t want go alone…

So after a lot of thinking I agreed and we submitted some sessions… I think the butterflies in my stomach haven’t been gone since that time.

Back to the volunteering part, one of the things we did as a volunteer in the building up to the event was evaluating the sessions for the event. Can’t remember the exact number but I think there were well over 900 sessions submit, also because this one of the first big event that was going to happen again after Covid.

With the sheer amount of sessions submitted and the quality off them , I would never would have thought that the sessions we summited would have been chosen. But to my surprise not soon after the evaluation was done and we received an email that our joined session ‘Meetings in a COVID era, and beyond’ got selected. I was over the moon but on the other side that was when the doubting started… Our session was selected, so now we had to pull through.. Getting the content together, getting the slides ready and more importantly.. Get my self ready… I slept not to well for a while, but luckily that sank a bit as we had some time before the summit as it was also postponed from February to June.

But then, it was really time to go. I arrived in Glasgow on Wednesday morning. Checked in the hotel and relaxed a bit. The event was on Friday and Saturday and on Thursday there was a Hackathon. On Wednesday I met Mike Hartley who also arrived early, as there was not much to do at that time we had some off-time and met at the venue Thursday morning. Started with setting up some things for the Hackathon and after we started preparing for the event.

We build some stands, and put sponsor stickers on a lot ( and I mean a lot) of plates for lunch. Getting everything ready and the hackathon it self went by in a breeze, during the day more and volunteers and speakers came by, so I got to know more and more wonderful people. After the Thursday we went out with a group of volunteers/speakers having some drinks, diner and a great time.

Friday was the first day where it really started, we met up at the venue at 7:00am so we could go over the last things and setup the last things and prepare for the doors the open. The day started with the keynote by Conell McGinley.

After that the first day of session began, because the organisation committee did such a great job, everything did just happen, I myself did go to a couple of session and did some volunteering in the ‘coat department’ this was a place where the merchandise was and speakers could get there speaker t-shirt. Also if you bought some merchandise via the website you could pick it up there.

Then Saturday came around… The day of our session, luckily we had a slot pretty early in the day at 11:00am. Before that time I just around a bit with my mind going all directions, and getting a bit sick in my stomach.. Started to wonder I should continue with this or that there was still time to cancel the session or let my colleague do it alone.

Decided I had to go through with and that I was going to see what was going to happen… If I would fail, at least I tried. Then when we were about to start session we found out it was going to be filmed, and there went my nerves again. Got my self together again, and just went with it. I must say I was glad we didn’t have a full room, and I think it went great. Of course, you always improve but for a first time it was Ok. The greatest thing about it for me was when after the session, someone from the audience came forward and we discussed how the session was exactly what they were needing at that time and they had heard some great things that they wanted to implement in their organisation… That me so proud… But now with the session done… Back to being me again.

So I did what every introvert would probably do, I separated myself from crowd for a while, and just some thinking about what just happened, about the fact that was doing a public talk, in front of mostly strangers and that they linked what we were talking about. After I don’t know 30-60 minutes went back to the conference, to visit some sessions and see if I could help out somewhere with my volunteer duties.

South Coast Summit 2022

Because of the people I have met on the Scottish Summit and a lot then where also speaking at the South Coast Summit I decided to also go there as an attendee and see some sessions there. While we there enjoying the time before the summit and having some drinks, some of the volunteered reached and asked if I was willing to help out during the event, since I was there; Why not? They reached out to the organisation and next early I was sitting at the registration boot welcoming people and handing them there badges. Again it was a great experience and I wanted to do more with this.

The road to 2024

I had such great times at these events that I wanted to do more… So somewhere halfway 2022 there was a post on Twitter I think from Scottish Summit asking for people who wanted to be in the Organising Committee from the 2024 Summit. I see a lot people thinks, your jumping from the 2022 to the 2024 summit, but that is no mistake. At that time none of us knew that there was going to be a Scottish Summit on tour in 2023.

But anyway, I replied using the form for being part of the organising committe from 2024 and waited. For wat seemed a very long time, but I got chosen. So now Iā€™m again involved with this great bunch of people, hoping we can give you a great summit in 2024.

Somewhere at the beginning of the year there was also a call for volunteers for the South Coast Summit 2023. I also applied there, but they didn’t announce yet who will join the ranks of volunteers..

And coming back to perhaps the greatest news for 2023, the Scottish Summit On Tour on August 5 this year in Manchester. Although i’m not part of the team for this year, I did submit a session again hoping to be a speaker, and helping then out where I can by spreading the love for the event of different social media.

Not sure if I will get picked as speaker this year, but planning on going there anyway as attendee and perhaps volunteer of needed..

Scottish Summit 2024

So this journey I started all in 2020 is going to end ( for now, but we’ll see what happens after ) in October 2024 with the Scottish Summit 2024. The first event I will be even more closely involved in as part of the organization committee.

For me the road was pretty heavy, being a massive introvert, and it really took me everything to work myself to get where I am now. It all started for my with a decision that I wanted to work on myself and put myself out there. I hasn’t been ( and still isn’t ) easy, but at least I have to confidence to put myself out there, even if I have to remove myself from the situation afterwards, the get my mind straightened out again.

So is this something that everyone can do? I cannot answer that but I do know that with a little trust in yourself and the guidance of some great people, who somehow all found their way to Scottish Summit, most people probably can, even if you are pretty introverted just like me. It takes a lot of working, but with these great people around… It’s a breeze, with the mandatory timeouts :-)