The 22nd international conference for English language teaching professionals by IATEFL Hungary

Behind the scenes – reflections by the conference organizers, part 1

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Lindner Zsuzsa

How did you contribute to the success of the 22nd IATEFL-Hungary conference?

As president and as one of the main organisers, I can say that I ‘had my hand’ in almost everything concerning the conference. I believe this year my most important task was to keep in mind all the things that needed to be dealt with, all the organisational issues that had to be done and to pull everything and everyone together before the conference. Another great task was to help all members of the team feel confident and relaxed about their own tasks, so that they can perform them successfully.

During the conference my main task was to find the balance between doing concrete organisational tasks and representing the association by making speeches, leading the Annual General Meeting and networking with speakers, exhibitors and participants – the latter being the highlight of the event for me. 🙂

What did you enjoy most about your conference-related work?

If you have ever organised a conference or any other event of such volume you know that there are always difficulties to deal with. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said that organising the conference is a piece of cake, especially if you are a volunteer and you do this besides your full-time job. There are so many obstacles: financial difficulties; people not answering emails; people promising something then letting you down; exhaustion; communication problems; etc.

However, the process of creating a great event from scratch is extremely rewarding. At first there is only a theme and a title; at this time the conference seems so far away that you don’t really feel stressed about it. Then, when the speakers’ proposals are evaluated you start realising that there really will be a conference and from this moment there’s no turning back. 🙂 During the conference the feeling is just the opposite: first it’s stressful and tiring, then as time goes by you feel more and more uplifted and relaxed seeing what you have achieved.

It’s hard to say what the most enjoyable part of organising the conference is, but it’s perhaps the knowledge that however hard it seems during the process you know that the end result will be fantastic and many people will enjoy the benefits of the conference. 🙂

In what ways have you benefited from your work?

In 2007 after organising “my” first conference in Balatonfüred, I felt so exhausted that I could see very few benefits to be honest. As the years went by and as I was becoming more and more confident in what needs to be done and how things need to be done, I started to feel more at ease during the conference, which allowed me to recognise the rewarding elements of this job. The greatest benefits of being part of the committee and the organising team are as follows:

  • getting to know amazing people, interesting and important ELT personalities
  • developing my communication, bid writing and ICT skills
  • learning to organise a large scale event
  • getting better at time management and multitasking
  • learning about things I had not dealt with before such as finances, accountancy and fundraising
  • … and the list could go on forever…

Luckily, these skills can all be used later on in my personal and professional life, thus working as a volunteer for IATEFL Hungary has been definitely been worthwhile.

Which aspect(s) of your work or achievement(s) as an organizer are you most proud of? Why?

I’m most proud of my TEAM and the IATEFL Hungary “family”.

No event is possible without a group of people all working for one aim: the success of the conference. I’m so happy to say that similarly to previous years, my TEAM did an amazing job this year; without them we wouldn’t be talking about a successful conference today. The IATEFL Hungary “family” consists of those colleagues, exhibitors, speakers and participants who have been attending our annual conferences for years. They are loyal to the association, introduce it to new colleagues, bring new participants to the conferences and are continually there for the association. This is really something to be proud of!

Osváth Erika

How did you contribute to the success of the 22nd IATEFL-Hungary conference?

I was helping the cameraman in deciding which sessions to film, plus did some of the roving interviews up until my own talk started on Saturday afternoon.

What did you enjoy most about your conference-related work?

It was such fun to be able to see snippets of so many talks and workshops, this way I could get a flavour of all we sneaked into for about 5-10 minutes each. Mind you, we didn’t always manage the “sneaking in”, so I do apologies for all who felt disrupted by us. The other thing I really enjoyed was doing the interviews. As I did such a thing for the first time in my life, it was a great learning experience, plus I loved talking to so many people about their workshops, ideas, opinions. It gave me a real sense of togetherness, we were all there for the same reason. It was wonderful experience and made me realise how important it is to mingle and try and get to know as many people as possible. There is so much to gain from such chats!

What did you enjoy least about your conference-related work?

Well, it was a little tiring, especially that I had to do my talk in the afternoon. So I couldn’t really concentrate on my own session because there were so many interesting people to talk to. Anyway, I would still do it again.

In what ways have you benefited from your work?

As I said earlier I’ve learnt a lot from this experience, both about how to make the most out of such conferences, things to do to do better interviews and how to handle multiple tasks at a conference. Also, it was a great experience to have very experienced trainers come to my talk, such as Ken Wilson, and I was able to ask for their feedback. I have learnt a lot from it.

Which aspect(s) of your work or achievement(s) as an organizer are you most proud of? Why?

Well, I wasn’t really an organiser, but it certainly great felt to be part of this professional team, who has done tremendous amount of work to make the conference work so smoothly. So thank you for the opportunity, IATEFL-Hungary.

Find out more about Erika’s work on her personal website.

Frank Prescott

This was my first year attending the IATEFL-Hungary Conference as an organiser, and it was almost like attending a different conference. It took me a while to get over the nerves and adrenalin of the first morning, but after the first day I actually began to enjoy being responsible for making sure that the conference proceeded smoothly. There were a few hiccups here and there, but overall that first day was a success, with perhaps the personal highlight for me being introducing Steve Oakes in the magnificent baroque decorated chamber of the main building of the Eszterházy College that was hosting the conference. Of course, the evening event in the Juhász wine cellar was very enjoyable, as well, as you can probably guess from watching the video I recorded there.

On the second day I felt much more confident and was able to enjoy listening to some of the plenaries and the speakers, although as an organiser I found that my mind kept wandering to other things that I had to check on, which was a little strange. I also enjoyed my role as a roving reporter, looking to get a different angle on the conference from the other, more professional reporters. The last day went really quickly and then, quite suddenly it was all over and everybody packed up and left, leaving me feeling a little down. It has been good to get some feedback from the speakers though and to start thinking about how we can improve things for our next conference, and especially how we can get even more people involved in the community of IATEFL-Hungary.

Darányi Ildikó

How did you contribute to the success of the 22nd IATEFL-Hungary conference?

I tried to be everywhere in case of need and I was open to do any task, for example acting as a courier, being on duty at the registration desk, etc. Taking part in a professional event like this is fantastic, you feel that you want to help, you want to be involved and you really want to contribute to it in the best possible way.

What did you enjoy most about your conference-related work?

Cooperation was inspirational and working in team is a great challenge. I have learned so much and it is good to have motivated people around you, it makes you feel motivated, too. Meeting so many interesting and nice people, having the opportunity to make new friends and socializing with colleagues is the best part of attending conferences either as a participant or an organizer.

What did you enjoy least about your conference-related work?

Getting up early morning and missing some really interesting workshops.

In what ways have you benefited from your work?

I have made new friends, met nice people and learnt a lot from my colleagues. New doors have opened and I got into a professional team which couldn’t be more inspiring!

Which aspect(s) of your work or achievement(s) as an organizer are you most proud of? Why?

I feel lucky to have found IATEFL-Hungary and I am really proud to be a member of the committee. It is an honour, so I look forward to the new challenges, and I would like to live up to the expectations.

Watch this interview with Ildikó at the conference (by Osváth Erika).

Check back regularly for Part 2 of “Behind the scenes”.

Edited by Gálik Norbert


Author: IATEFL-Hungary

The International Association of Teachers of English in Hungary

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