Here is a thing about events: there is nothing as exciting, crazy, chaotic and emotionally rewarding as organising a conference. People hate it, but then they do it again and again.
I am not sure if there was a moment when I straightforwardly hated the Outriders Summit, even though it was an organisational hustle and those responsible were just the two of us; the busiest person at Outriders – Kuba, and me. The rest of the team had plenty of work to do with our portal: preparing the launch of two new interactive stories, the design, and layout for our new websites and keep the newsletter and dispatches going.
There were indeed moments of high adrenaline and others of satisfaction, when things rolled out as planned, just because we had designed them this way. I think the emotional impact of something as specific and real as a physical event you organise is an enriching experience. Life is unpredictable, but hey – look at how much you can create. In this way, events are suitable for the ego 😉
One of the most exciting parts for me as an organiser was the process of designing and working on the event’s agenda. The line-up and presentations, people you invite to speak – they all shape the experience of all participants. And this experience is something that stays with them. It is what you are offering, a UVP in a startup language.
A lineup should be a statement, should make sense as a whole and yet provide space for individual stories to manifest themselves and come through. I loved the Summit’s theme – “Story, first” and was I impressed by how journalists we had invited approached it from the variety of perspectives they represented. I think crafting an agenda is a unique example of storytelling itself – and on top of it, it is very participatory.
I felt very proud of working on the agenda. I am thrilled I could do it. We are still awaiting the evaluation feedback (the surveys were sent out last night), but I hope the amount of attention we gave to the event’s main strength – its line up of speakers – showed.
Last and not least, – events are about people. I like to compare events to dinner parties – you need to take care of every person yet give them enough freedom to do as they please. Good hosts do not impose. They strike a balance between straightforward logistics and subtle lingerings – it is not all about details, but they are essential. We were fortunate. Our guests were our friends, people we admire and want to hang out with. It was only a pleasure to have them join us for the Summit.
Events stay with you. The connections you sparked, the things you have learned or were inspired to learn, the fun you had. One of the most challenging things is to make sure that the events you organise address some real need, which I think Jakub had diagnosed well at the very beginning when the idea of the summit was born – “There are so many events that focus on journalism and media, but… as strange as it seems, it is hard to meet journalists at many of them. Publishers, editors, NGOs – these are the usual suspects. They all talk about how to support journalists at work. Now, what about organising an event made by journalists for journalists?” What I mean is that people have to want to come and learn from each other.
A day after the event Georgiana Illie, the editor in Chief of Romanian Scoala 9 (New School) and our closing speaker published a list of things she heard and learned at the event on her Facebook page. In the world where we travel to pitch ideas and close deals – isn’t it lovely to meet with your peers and listen to one another? I don’t claim it as our success in any way, but this one thing is something I am very proud of.
Outriders Summit was well organised, people from all over the world came and gave talks, but you know what? They also listened to each other. You might call it out as mumbo-jumbo, but for me, it matters the most. Opening one’s mind to different perspectives is something tough to achieve, something that doesn’t come with ease.
Listening might be harder than talking, especially to those used to telling the stories.
Thank you for coming and making Outriders Summit what it was and what we hoped it would be.
P.S. Do you want to keep the conversation rolling? So do we! 😉
Join us on Facebook in the Outriders Network group. You will hear more about the upcoming events and get a chance to stay connected to fellow journalists.