Saturday, June 1, 2013

Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2013 - What can we do better?

In my last blog post I talked about some of the highlights of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife, and what I feel we do well. In this post I want to reflect a little more on what we could do better.

Better organisaton?
I think we have our management processes pretty much sorted, especially thanks to our new email system and domain. However, we are not as responsive as I think we should be in the last two or three weeks. This was a challenge for me at times in the run up to the conference because I didn't feel fully updated with progress of facilitator and speaker organisation. This puts the event at risk because if we don't know what was going on, we cannot take action to put things right if they were turning to custard.

(Mind you, I have to admit that I am a control freak and I go into manic/panic mode in the couple of weeks running up to the conference. The VIDM is my life for those two weeks - I live, sleep, breathe the VIDM. I recognise that I have to let go of this, and trust in the process, and trust in the wonderful people that I work with on the organizing committee.)

Eventually, we got ourselves sorted with a shared tracking document which we maintained in Google Docs. To overcome this problem next year, I suggest that:
  • we develop an extensive time line with jobs and have that ready to go, right from day one of our organisation;
  • we integrate the time line into a shared tracking document;
  • we aim to start organisation in December, rather than leaving it until January/February;
  • we start the process of matching facilitators and speakers at least 1 week earlier, and have strictly enforced time lines for what facilitators/speakers should do.
A little more structure to master facilitation
The master facilitators are amazing people who donate a lot of their time to make sure the event runs well on the day. There isn't really much more I would do different except to suggest that we are more proactive about having a "spare" presentation/speaker available in every time zone, just in case some one drops out at the very last minute, or we have technical difficulties.

On the whole everyone did a fantastic job. But there were one or two facilitators and speakers who either found they had committed to something that was too advanced for them, or they didn't quite realise how stressful it is for us when they did not stick to time lines, like send in their presentations to be prepared in the virtual room.

One thing I am going to suggest for next year is that if we have any doubt about people's commitment or ability, especially as facilitators,  that we ask them to attend as a participant in the first year to get an idea of how everything works, before we accept them as facilitators in the following year. We do need to build capacity in facilitators but at the same time, we also want facilitators who can do a professional job. It is very stressful to the master facilitators if the facilitator don't do their job well, before or during the conference. Another idea may be to do a virtual teaching session or two, on how to be a good facilitator, a few weeks/months before the event.

24 hour social media coverage
Another thing I think we need to improve is our social media coverage, making sure that there is someone at the back end of our Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the 24 hours. This will be especially useful when it comes to answering real-time questions and posting up photos of participants.

Did you attend the Virtual International Day of the Midwife this year? What do you think we could do better? 


Anonymous said...

As a student I did not hear about the conference until after the event. So maybe a little more promotion at universities before the event so students can tune in. Thanks Mel

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks Mel, I certainly take on board your comment. But the snag is....because we are a reasonably small band of people, we do not have the capacity to target every university in the world who has a midwifery program. We do the best we can to target education networks, such as the ICM education email list. I guess is another obvious place to advertise, but they have their own events and were not keen to promote us when I spoke to them a few years ago.

Ummm...just thinking....a job for some students...would you be able to help us with this, Mel?

Sheena said...

Hi Sarah, sorry I let you down. Think I added to your stress! It was a serious issue; I would never normally do this. Congratulations on such an enormous achievement again, to you and your team.

PS it's good to see my daughter and granddaughter on the photo! Sheena x

Sarah Stewart said...

Gosh, didn't let me down. I know you had to withdraw, but you provided an alternative solution, for which I am extreme;y grateful. And a big thanks to your daughter for stepping and doing such a wonderful job. thanks a lot, Sarah