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ASPIRE Event Follow Up: Learning Outcomes

4 December 13 -- jsuess
Contributed by Sally Lewis, Coordinator, South West Federation of Museums and Galleries, who has attended a number of our ASPIRE Events

I work as a freelance consultant in the South West of England currently as Coordinator for the South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries. Working from home as a freelancer gives a degree of flexibility but can be isolating. This year I have been lucky enough to attend several of the Oxford ASPIRE training workshops which have provided a good opportunity to get out and network. It is also a chance to learn new skills and broaden knowledge of a subject, and learn about what’s going on in the area. As I am South West based it is a change to meet colleagues from outside the area and I have been able to compare notes and advocate for the work of the Federation to new people. Some of the sessions I chose to attend were of direct relevance to my work, others related to CPD as part of my AMA and others were in subject areas I would hope to use more in the future.

Like many people I would like to improve my confidence when called upon to speak at a meeting or even in normal conversation! I recently identified this in my Professional Development Plan so attended the session on Presentation Skills.   The skills were taught in a small group so we got to know each other a bit better than is usual on these occasions, in particular by shouting at each other across the room and by giving a short presentation at the end for peer criticism. In a way having to do the final task proved quite nerve-wracking as by then we knew the key things to look for and had an inkling of what each of us was concerned about, having shared this at the start. However, this knowledge encouraged us to support each other and give practical remarks and suggestions for improvement. It was encouraging to know others were nervous and yet witness them give lively and informative presentations. The trainer was knowledgeable and very supportive and it was an enjoyable day. Particularly useful was a personal feedback sheet given after the presentations which I can use in my CPD.

Communications is a main part of my job as SW Fed Coordinator so the session Communications Strategy was particularly relevant as well as relating to my work with museums. The speaker challenged preconceptions about universities to illustrate problems in communication and was excellent in giving examples that showed how planning strategies could be applied.  I have worked with small museums on their forward plans so it was interesting to hear how similar techniques can be applied to focus thinking in other areas.

Delegates networking and sharing ideas at a recent Oxford ASPIRE event

I use social media extensively in various roles so the session Digital Thinking for Museums: Social Media had a  particular relevance  and complemented other networking and training received in the SW (including the SW Digital Development Project Conference). Lots of examples given and case studies to follow up. The workshop on Multimedia showed how to produce a professional-looking image and audio presentation in a short space of time which could be applied in organisations of various sizes.

I have mentored several small museums to help improve their sustainability in the areas of marketing and fundraising so the sessions from the Fundraising & Philanthropy series I attended added to my knowledge. It was interesting to hear a variety of examples from those who carry out this work on a large scale every day and realise what is possible if you have the confidence to ask. Advice given in Building communications for fundraising success and Individual giving- patrons, friends & major gifts can be applied to general advocacy work and friends organisations in any size of museum.

It has been good to meet the enthusiastic Oxford ASPIRE team regularly as well as meeting the variety of delegates. The venues have been excellent, and Oxford is a great place to come for the day. I have learnt a lot of practical techniques and added to knowledge which I use every day. The networking has been invaluable and I have been able to make a lot of new contacts. The benefits are far reaching – for example I was pleased to connect  someone from Oxford with colleagues here in the South West looking for advice on a project. She is kindly going to share her work with us at the SW Federation Forum this Autumn - I must remember not to criticise her presentation skills!

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