Best way to communicate with an event team?
May 2, 2019 7:23 PM   Subscribe

I have just been asked to help co-ordinate a large public event in three months that will involve many volunteers and a lot of planning before and during the event. Up until now we have been communicating by e-mail and text, but it seems like there must be a better way especially during the event, when we may need to have a lot more centralized communication. (None of us do this professionally). Would Slack be something we should consider? Something else?
posted by nanook to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, use Slack with a general channel plus one for each specialty (tickets, parking, vendors, etc) so the people on those teams can coordinate easily and others with specific questions can post there instead of having them go in the general channel.

Make sure everyone has notifications turned on and you should be set :)
posted by ananci at 7:28 PM on May 2, 2019

If it's three months out, please consider pushing for funding to ensure that all the content in Slack remains searchable. It's really irritating to be about to have the event and unable to pull up something that was agreed to months ago only to find that the free tier doesn't allow you to do so.

If there's no money for that, Microsoft has a Slack-alike (not Skype, something else) that I believe has more capability at the free tier.

A lot of events also do some organizing via the Google office apps and some form of cloud fire sharing such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
posted by Candleman at 9:26 PM on May 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

If your volunteers are not technical or over 40, you may want support their onboarding - a test channel, a brief tutorial on how to set up slack notifications on desktop and on mobile device, how to @ someone and why. Either a quick reference guide/page or you could maybe just have a designated admin for each channel who makes sure that each pertinent person is subscribed and then @s people if they are not responding plus an occasional broad email announcement to confirm that everyone is seeing the main slack channel messages. An agreement that either email or slack DMs are a preferred/standard may be a consideration depending on the formality of your project. This might seem like overkill but I've worked with people who find slack confusing based on lack of technical experience. I second Candleman's suggestion for paying to search Slack - I'm forever hoping that a pertinent bit of conversation was in email and not slack and having conversations with someone where neither of us remember the result of a group conversation and it is lost in slack history.
posted by RoadScholar at 4:54 AM on May 3, 2019

My company hosts conferences, with upwards of 60 staff on site (and some back at the office) coordinating on all kinds of things - everything from "microphone isn't working in session room 205 please send tech" to "did anyone get a picture of the award presentation for social media" to "all hands on deck to keep attendees out of the exhibit hall until 10." We create a What's App group that works really well for on-site communication. We also create other groups for specific teams, like the communications team, or the registration desk team. The nice thing about What's App in addition to the group chats is once everyone is in the group, everyone doesn't need to have every other person's phone number. You can just scroll through the group member list to find someone and text them directly if you need to.

I wouldn't want to use What's App for pre-conference coordination, but I think it's easier to use than Slack on site on your phone. If you go with Slack for planning and wanted to use the same app for everything, I would definitely suggest creating a Slack channel or even separate team just for on-site comms. I agree with the above that you're gonna need some training for people to use Slack; I come from the age of IRC so to me it's completely natural, but not everyone "gets" it right off the bat.
posted by misskaz at 5:53 AM on May 3, 2019

How flaky is the WiFi / cellular? I'd have a backup set of 10 to 20 walkie-talkies. I'd also have a backup plan for slack/whatsapp/googleHangouts, that is, use one, but also be sure your head volunteers have the second one installed and trained on in case one website is down.
posted by at at 6:06 AM on May 3, 2019

We will be on a campus with open wifi during the event. Thanks for the great answers, everyone!
posted by nanook at 7:39 AM on May 3, 2019

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