On 29th June 2022, Yorkshire and Humber Health Libraries Network (YOHHLNet) held its first face to face event for over two and a half years.

The study day (held at Leeds Central Library) incorporated the AGM and brought around 30 people from across the region together.  The event booked up really quickly, even before the agenda had been finalised, showing the keenness of many to meet face to face again.

However, due to the ongoing COVID situation, we also offered the opportunity to join the day online.  A few delegates signed up for this, and it was just as well that this option was on offer, as two of the speakers were unable to attend physically on the day (due to COVID) and delivered their presentations virtually.

Arranging an in-person event, after such a long pause, was a bit of shock to the system, as we were out of practice - we’d all got so used to arranging meetings virtually.  Adding the hybrid element brought a fresh element of “excitement” to things, but with lots of planning in advance, (most) things went smoothly on the day.

The presentations from the day can be found at https://www.lksnorth.nhs.uk/yohhlnet/yohhlnet-groups/cpd/cpd-event-presentations/

We’re sharing below our “top tips” for arranging an event such as this ….. we hope it helps!

Signing in sheet – make sure it’s at the entrance to the room and is clearly visible.

Agendas – to save the trees, we just printed one per table (although in future may consider using a virtual agenda, possibly accessible via QR code).

Flipchart paper – a pad of flipchart is very heavy and awkward to carry around, especially if you’re travelling to an external venue.  If a presenter asks for some flipchart paper, find out how much they need, and only take what is required.

Marker pens – make sure they work before the day, and make sure they are all in colours that are easily visible.

Evaluation form – we sent this round by email after the event.  It’s best to set up the evaluation form prior to the event, as afterwards, you’ll have run out of steam!  Be kind to yourselves as organisers.

Ask for presentations to be sent in for a stated date, several days before the event – it takes longer than you think to combine them all together and load them onto the laptops.  (We saved them onto a couple of different laptops, just in case one device decided not to work on the day.)

Give speakers a long lead time to create their presentations and keep doing gentle reminders as the due date approaches.

Check to see if speakers are happy for their presentations to be shared.  If you ask at the outset (when they agree to deliver a talk), it saves having to do the follow-up question later.

We shared the presentations with delegates, and all the speakers, after the event via a padlet.   Be prepared to convert the presentations into pdf format to reduce their size. 

Get there early to set up the room and test the technology, especially for remote presentations.

To enable remote joining, we had two laptops running, both in the same MS Teams meeting.  One was used by speakers, and the other was used by an organiser to manage the chat / admit any meeting joiners / respond to any queries.

It is really important to stick to time on the agenda, especially when people are joining remotely, possibly only for one particular session.  Be clear to speakers about how much time they have been allocated.

If you are sourcing catering from an external company, and budgets are an issue, it’s infinitely cheaper to buy packs of wrapped biscuits (e.g. KitKats) and fresh fruit from a supermarket.  See if you can get jugs of water for free, rather than having to purchase bottled water.

Double check the food ordering, and delivery arrangements (if coming from offsite).  And have the phone number of the company to hand in case of difficulties on the day.  (And negotiate a discount if it doesn’t all go to plan ….)

Take food bags, so that any spare food can be taken home by attendees.  This was a particular hit on the day with delegates!

And finally, be prepared to move the whole event online at short notice if COVID figures increase.  We were lucky and still fine to go ahead and meet in person – but if the event had been a week or two later, we’d have had to go virtual due to a COVID wave.

Heather Steele
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust & YOHHLNet Chair

Helen Swales
Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust & YOHHLNet CPD Lead