Thursday 7 July 2011

Jon Ronson - Time to get Organised

These have been exciting times for us here at Birmingham Skeptics.  We’ve had some brilliant talks over the last few months, word is getting around the midlands and as a result our talks have been getting more and more popular.  Those who were at Ash Pryce’s excellent ‘How to be a Psychic Conman’ show will have noticed how popular it’s become.

On top of this, we’ve got the amazing Jon Ronson doing his talk ‘The Psychopath Test’ for us next week (13th July) at The Victoria.  We’re really looking forward to it, and, looking at the numbers that have responded on Facebook, lots of other people from around the area are too.

As a result of this, we’ve decided that we need to be a little more organised

on the night.  Don’t worry, we’re not going to change the informal nature of the night, we’re just going to do a couple of things to make sure things run smoothly.  Here are the details.

Normally, the room is open all day so people just turn up when they want and sit around until the show starts.  From now on, you won’t be able to enter the room until 7pm.  The bar is still going to be open downstairs, so you can still turn up when you want and sit in the pub until the doors open.

Previously, we’d collect your donations during the interval between the talk and the Q & A.  You may have noticed a bit of a queue to leave the room to go and get drinks because of this.  To avoid this happening in the future, we’ll be collecting your donation as you enter the room before the show.  As always, we ask for only a couple of pounds to cover the speaker’s expenses, without your donations, we wouldn’t be able to run these nights.  Remember, none of our speakers charge us for their talks, they give their time free of charge, we just cover their expenses.  None of the organisers make any money from putting these nights on.

As always, seats will be limited and on a first come first served basis.  However, if there is a medical reason as to why you’ll be unable to stand for the duration of the talk, please email us and we’ll reserve a seat for you.

Oh, and we’ll be actually starting at 7.30pm this time, not 7.40, so make sure you’re on time.  Please bear in mind that there's the possibility that this will be a 'sell out', once the room is full we'll have to start turning people away sadly.

That’s about it.  Not too painful eh?  I hope you’re looking forward to Jon Ronson’s talk, I reckon it’s going to be fantastic night.  I understand he’ll be flogging his books on the night, so if you’re extra polite and there’s sufficient time, you may be able to twist his arm into signing a copy for you.


Adrian said...

Ah, but how polite will I have to be to get him to sign my old copy of "Them"?

Su Shiho said...

Although I've been dying to see this talk from Jon Ronson I have a feeling that trying to attend will lead to Ryanair-seating-like anxiety outbreaks, people queueing up the stairs, crowding around the stairwell for ages, uncertainty as to whether one would be let in but friends wouldn't get in the door, making for a bit of an ordeal and disjointed night rather than being able to actually enjoy it; I think I'd be doing myself a service to choose not to come, and hope I can catch the talk elsewhere in a bigger venue.
Hope it's good and not too crushed/stressful for those that do go!

Patrick (@paddyrex) said...

Su, when Simon Singh came along we had a big crowd but all that came had a good time. There are only ever a limited number of seats and most people are happy to stand. I'm sure that it will be a great night with a great atmosphere. We're only posting up these changes to the running of things in order to make the evening go smoothly.

It's a pity we won't be seeing you at this one and I hope that others reading your comment won't be put off attending as this is going to be brilliant.

raetsel said...

Collecting money on the way in is a good idea but not sure how having the doors locked until 7pm will work.

Will it be the upstairs door that is locked? So will you have people queuing down the stairs to be sure they get a seat? or if it is the downstairs door so people will be clustering round the bottom of the stairs in a huddle? Don't the staff need to get up and down the stairs for access elsewhere?

If I make an effort to arrive early to get a seat I'd like to be able to do that without having to stand for an hour beforehand just to be sure. It'll be a like the iMax at millennium point used to be before they had reserved seating but at least they had proper space for a queue.

What's the problem you are trying to solve with this idea? If it's just to make collecting money easier and quicker I think there are better ways to do this like do the collection in the room beforehand and walk the jar round.

Patrick (@paddyrex) said...

HI raetsel

The issue with getting into the room early isn't just based around the Skeptics in the Pub. There is a lot of open stock in the room and it's not generally a good idea to have people in there if we can't guarantee supervision.

Having said that we are trying out new things and if any part of it doesn't work we'll react and adapt as appropriate.

raetsel said...

Ah ok I see. Well as long as you are prepared to adapt according to the evidence of an empirical experiment. What more can we ask? ;o)

Patrick (@paddyrex) said...


Precisely :)

Lots of stuff is still new and none of us are professional event organisers. This is something we fit in around our families and jobs that we hope people enjoy. We're learning and when we find things that we could have done better then we will learn.

Positive suggestions and feedback such as yours is always welcome.

Su Shiho said...

I had asked at your last event what you were thinking of doing about possible high turnout for the Jon Ronson event and having to turn people away, and someone on your team had mentioned you were thinking of ticketing it this time. Even though you haven't for this occasion, perhaps that's something you could consider for future events if the speaker is well-known and you are likely to have to turn people away once you reach capacity, as then people will have a chance to secure a place before they travel out for the night, make arrangements for dinner, babysitting etc? I know there are some ticketing sites people use to offer 'free' tickets for an event, but that allows them to manage capacity where there's only a certain amount of people can fit in - though I'm sure most of your attendees wouldn't have minded a donation of a couple of quid for a ticket if it guaranteed entry. If it's only for occasional high-capacity events then it doesn't have to permanently compromise your voluntary donations policy in the main. Hope these suggestions are useful, I can find out the name of the online ticketing service that is open to any group or individual to use, if that would help for the future?