My day of volunteering at Sponsorship Toronto

Last Tuesday and Wednesday my Event Marketing class had the chance to volunteer at the Sponsorship Toronto conference that took place at the Grand Hotel and Suites.  Sponsorship Toronto is a two-day conference in which professionals from the sponsorship community come together for an exchange of ideas and knowledge on the topic of sponsorship.  While this conference was relatively small compared to others I’ve volunteered at, it was a great event to be a part of. It was interesting to see how the conference was organized and executed, especially because there were multiple sessions running simultaneously.

Sponsorship Toronto  banner.  Photo credit: Cindy Atwood-Mcconnell

Sponsorship Toronto banner.
Photo Credit: Cindy Atwood-Mcconnell

I volunteered on the Wednesday morning as a Room Manager. As Room Manager, my partner Haiming and I were in change or ensuring that the presentations ran smoothly and on schedule. We were also in charge of the lighting and sound for the room during the morning workshops. I was primarily responsible for introducing the speakers, informing the conference attendees on when lunch was, what time the next sessions were at and what the speaker’s topics were on.

Haiming and I worked during the session “Harnessing the Internet: Creating Digital Value for Sponsors” with speakers Jane Hopgood and Regan Zuzarte. Jane Hopgood is the Senior Vice President of Arts & Communications and Regan Zuzarte is the President and founder of Triangles. Both Jane and Reagan were absolute pleasures to work with. They were both very relaxed and easy going, especially during times of technical difficulties with the presentations. I was expecting the presentations to run extremely smoothly, but they didn’t.

Sponsorship conference in session.  Photo Credit: Cindy Atwood-Mcconnell

Sponsorship conference in session.
Photo Credit: Cindy Atwood-Mcconnell

The number one thing to remember when working or running an event is, something can and will go wrong. In our case, we had things happen twice during the presentation. The first blip was the fact that a video on the slideshow wouldn’t play. Eventually I was able to make the video play. The second technical difficulty was the fact that the computer decided it was going to shut down and auto update itself halfway through the presentation. Jane and Reagan were absolute pros during these difficult few moments. Instead of sitting there with nothing to say, they dived right into questions from the audience. Once the computer rebooted and we were on track again once again, the speakers switched right back into their presentation as if nothing had happened. While it was a bit stressful dealing with these issues, it was great to see how problems can be handled in a calm manner.

Overall the Sponsorship Toronto was a great event to be a part of. It allowed me to see how smaller-scale conferences function and how to calmly deal with issues when they arise. No event is ever perfect and this conference proved that to me.

Dining like royalty – Learning the art of dining etiquette

Last Monday my Event Marketing class had the opportunity to attend an etiquette seminar, Dine Like a Diplomat, at the beautiful Faculty Club, University of Toronto. The Faculty Club is a beautiful ivy-covered building, situated near Spadina Avenue in Toronto, Ontario. Built in the early 19th century, the Faculty Club is used as a social centre for the University of Toronto community (particularly faculty and alumni). The venue can also be booked for private events such as weddings, meetings and afternoon tea.

The Faculty Club, University of Toronto Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

The Faculty Club, University of Toronto
Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Our etiquette course was on the fine art of dining. Before attending this seminar I had never given dining etiquette much thought. Growing up I was taught basic table manners:  keep your elbows off the table, chew with your mouth closed, don’t slouch and keep your cell phone off the table.  With these basic table manners etched into my mind, I was sure that this etiquette seminar would be a breeze. I mean really… what more do you need to know than “keep your elbows off the table”?

Boy oh boy was I wrong. For starters, I learned that the fork always goes on the left side, not the right (at home I set it on the right side because I’m right handed).  There is a whole placing system for dinnerware and glassware. Often in formal dining settings, you will have about 2-3 sets of silverware to use. You generally always work from the outer most cutlery, inwards. It was exhausting having to basically learn a whole new way of eating

During our seminar Leanne Pepper, our etiquette coach gave us some very good tips:

  • It can take up to 21 days of practice to get into the habit of developing and maintain good dining room etiquette.
  • You must always wait for the host or hostess to start.
  • Never reach over the table to grab something. Always ask politely.
  • Always excuse yourself when you need to get up from the table. Exit your chair to the right side, push your chair in and leave your napkin folded (neatly) on the back of your chair.
  • You never want to be the first or the last person to finish.
  • The knife sits in the right hand and the fork in the left. Never “saw” your knife back and forth to cut the food. Also, always keep the tines of the fork face down when eating.
  • Always sit and walk straight. Imagine there is a string attached to your head that is being pulled upwards. This visual will serve as a reminder to always maintain a good posture.
  • Always, always, always keep your cellphone OFF the table.

During out seminar we able to practice what we were taught over a scrumptious three-course dinner. We started off with a delicious autumn soup, followed our main entrée, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. For dessert we were served a delectable cinnamon peach parfait.

The soup course Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

The soup course
Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Our roasted chicken entrée Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Our roasted chicken entrée
Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Cinnamon Peach parfait  Photo credit: Chantal Penrose

Cinnamon Peach parfait
Photo credit: Chantal Penrose

Overall, I found the etiquette seminar very informative. I was surprised by all of the little things you have to remember when dining out in a formal setting.  While it might take a bit of practice, table manners can help or hinder your chances of getting a job in the future, especially if your job interview is done over dinner.  Outside of the dining world, good manners are always important. Always be kind, courteous and confident. The way you treat others and how you present yourself can really impact your professional image.

The EVM class at Dine Like a Diplomat  Photo Credit: Chris Bacchus

The EVM class at Dine Like a Diplomat
Photo Credit: Chris Bacchus