The Mensa Events Guide
Mensa does not host events. Puzzling? Truth is, only Mensans host events. It may sound like semantics to you, but in reality it affects what goes on in our group. OK, so I grant you that our local group sponsors both the ExComm Meeting (been to one yet?) and FSM. Every other event listed in Momentum in the past 20 years existed solely because one or more of our members wanted it to happen. That's a LOT of events. Some members just attend events, others host and attend, and some stay in touch only through newsletters, web sites, and e-mail. If you haven't tried hosting, or if you aren't happy with the selection of events offered to you, or if you are new to the group, then I hope this article will give you some helpful tips and maybe some motivation to create your own event. Below you'll find a basic guide for hosting events, but consider it only an overview.
How does an event happen? I'm glad you asked. Basically, you decide that you want to do something, host something, or attend something - and then you call it an event and list it in the newsletter. The "something" part is up to you.
What constitutes an event? Well, the short answer is, What do you want it to be? Members have hosted everything from symphony trips to water balloon fights, monthly games events, movie nights, and pool parties. Our calendar has several dinners, lunches, and brunches, but don't let that stop you from hosting something similar, especially if those listed aren't convenient to you. (I wanted a dinner event in Portsmouth, so after trying out several restaurants, I finally found one that had an easy time accommodating a group of us on a Friday night.) Events can be as creative as you want them to be. Try different things! They can be indoors or outside, sports-related, fun, serious, adult-only, family-friendly - whatever you want. But that's the key - host an event that is fun for you.
How do I know people will show up? You don't. The attendance at each event is governed by a number of things: interest, cost, location, weather, traffic, time, season and a zillion individual preferences. Should you let this stop you? Heck no, just do it. Plan an event that you want to attend. That way, if no one shows up, you haven't lost anything. But that's rare. What is more likely to happen though is that you'll get anywhere from a handful of members to a couple dozen who show with bells on (not literally, but you never know). Some events require an R.S.V.P. if held in a location where an exact count is needed. Events held in public venues or in people's homes don't usually require guests to provide advance notice, but if you feel it is necessary, note it in your calendar listing. Speaking of the calendar listing, this is the way we typically advertise events in our chapter (see below).
When should I hold my event? Well, whenever it is convenient for you of course, with one exception: no events are listed at the same time as FSM. Other than that, do what works for you. Some events are held for an hour or two, whereas others last all day or even an entire weekend. If you have time constraints for your event, note that in the calendar listing. Events can be scheduled any day of the week, daytime or evening. You can certainly host one-time events, host the same event a couple of times, or, if it's something you really love, you can make it a regular monthly/weekly/annual event. Some members are partial to one type of event, others come up with several different ones over the course of a year or two that they think are fun and want to share with other Ms.
How do I advertise my event? First, decide which day and time your event will happen. If it is not going to take place at your home, be sure to get the name, address and phone number of the venue. Write up a brief description of the event (with all these details) and write accurate directions on how to get to it. List your contact information so members with questions can call or e-mail you (remember, not all members have e-mail!). Send all of this information to the calendar editor (see current newsletter for those instructions) by the deadline. If you've never listed an event, ask the Calendar Editor or another member for feedback and suggestions. (FYI: The deadline is typically the first day of the month preceding your event. So if you want to host something on March 4th, 14th, or 24th, get the information to the calendar editor by February 1st! Then, when the newsletters are mailed at the end of February, your event is listed with enough lead time for members to read about it and decide to go.)
What is my role as host? Well, first, pat yourself on the back for creating an event. Really!! But don't hurt yourself, because at minimum you'll need to be at the event to make sure it happens as advertised (understandable exceptions would be a blizzard, catastrophic damage to your home, or being beamed aboard an alien vessel). Seriously though, as host you should do the following.
Provide accurate information about the event, time, location and anything else people would need to know (e.g., tell us if we need to bring our own lawn chairs, or if smoking is permitted outdoors only, or warn allergic members if there will be cats in the house).
State the game plan up front. If you are providing food and drinks for all, then say so. If you are providing just the space but you want everyone to bring food to share or to bring their own beverages _ that's okay too. Some events may require a small contribution at the door to help cover the expenses (this is usually $2-$5, but always fair for what is being offered) put that in the calendar listing, too.
Make everyone feel welcomed, and meet and greet new members in particular _ this may be their first event.
If you are hosting the event in a public place assume that some attendees won't recognize you. Tell them how they will be able to find you and the rest of the group. If at a restaurant, you can prop a copy of Momentum up on the table. If at a museum or park, designate a specific meeting spot.
An event can also be co-hosted by two members. Possibilities range from sharing equally in the planning and hosting of the event all the way to one person provides the location and the other does all the planning for it. This works out well for members with small homes or apartments but lots of enthusiasm for hosting events (and for those with lots of space, and a willingness but no time to set up an event). The division of effort is entirely up to the two of you.
The best way to learn what events you like to host is to just jump in and try it out. If you have questions about hosting events just ask other members. They are likely to have additional ideas or suggestions beyond those here.