What is an Idea Locker?
An idea locker is a bit of a junk
drawer. Each of the entries is a germ of an idea upon which you can
build ideas for your specific FMI Chapter circumstance. The Idea
Locker includes untested ideas and ideas used in the
past by other FMI Chapters. Where possible, former Chapter slide
presentations, etc. have been included to help you convert an idea
into a FMI professional development event.
This is not an exhaustive list; please use the Contact
Us form (select "Idea Locker" on the drop-down menu)
to contribute your own ideas. Be sure to include a descriptive
title, a short paragraph summarizing the event, whether the idea is
new or was used before, your contact information (in case of
questions,) and which of the following broad themes the idea falls
- Government/Public Service Theme: Focuses on
the public sector and the professionals who work in it. Partners
for these types of programs include government entities, the
Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), universities,
public sector pension organizations and unions.
- Financial Management Theme: Focuses on the
financial aspects of an organization, and accounting and finance
professionals. Partners for these types of programs include
accounting associations (CPA, ACCA, etc.), accounting firms and
- Local or Personal Interest Theme: Includes
everything else. Local interest events are specific to each
Chapter. Nevertheless, while your Chapter may not deal with oil and
gas exploration, maritime law or managing governments in two
official languages, the ideas in the locker may lead to other more
relevant ideas for your Chapter. The Edmonton Chapter tries to hold
a least one fun or personal development-focused learning event per
Execution and Some Handy Tools in the Resource Locker
Ideas are great, but only hard work delivers results. Fortunately,
some simple tools and methods make the hard work easier. The tools
are organized according to the stages when they are used:
- Idea Generation: establishing the program for
- Event Idea Refinement: taking a possibility
and turning it into a plan of action.
- Pre-Event Organization: executing the plan of
- Event: running the all-day, lunch hour,
breakfast session, etc.
- Post-Event: continuing the learning after the
audience has departed.
The Edmonton Chapter uses the following model for its typical event
format, which is a half-day program including breakfast. A brief
summary of steps and tools used in each stage of the planning
process is provided below. More details can be found in the
- FMI Edmonton's Program Methodology
- FMI - Idea Locker: The Edmonton Chapter never
let an imperfect idea go to waste. They are kept around, re-tweaked
and reconsidered for the "Upcoming Events" web page at /Chapters/Edmonton/upcoming-events.
- Idea Selection Night: A Board meeting in a
social setting results in a plan for the following program year. Of
course, if an unexpected opportunity falls into the Chapter's lap,
rush efforts will be made to incorporate it.
- Event Idea Document: This is a one- or
two-page document detailing the idea, its value to members,
potential speakers and other details. The document helps board
members, speakers, and potential partners understand or contribute
to the event idea.
- Assignment of Event Manager: The most
important planning step is assigning a project/event manager for
each event. Ideally, no one manages more than one event per year
because of the time and effort commitment required.
- Excel Planning Tool: Event managers may find
it helpful to use the Microsoft Excel-based event planning tool.
The template has nine tabs, the most important one being the detail
agenda tab. It creates a minute-by-minute program to provide a
level of comfort to your speakers and volunteers.
- Event Registration and Communication Tool:
Don't go cheap on the registration or communication tool. FMI is
developing a registration/database tool for Chapter use that is
scheduled for release in September 2015, but in the interim,
Edmonton utilizes Constant Contact, which it considers to be the
best-in-class tool. Its best feature is that it enables the Chapter
to monitor details like registration from different government
levels and to tailor future promotion accordingly.
- Conference Calls for Event Planning Meetings:
Edmonton's preference is to hold bi-weekly conference calls of 20 -
30 minutes. The advantage of conference calls is that they are very
focused and time-limited. Event Planning Meetings allow the event
manager to do walk-throughs.
- Presenter Conference Call: This is one of the
most important meetings when organizing a learning event,
particularly when there are two or more presenters. The meeting
provides a chance to set the tone of the event, and it allows the
speakers to synchronize their presentation content. This meeting
also helps the speakers to understand what to expect and how to
prepare. In addition, it is an opportunity for speakers to share
their slide presentation decks to minimize content overlap.
- Pre-Event Notes: This is a 2 - 6 page PDF
document providing a summary of the program, speaker biographies,
other relevant content, upcoming FMI events and any other Chapter
news or activities. This document is available 2 - 3 weeks in
advance on the event registration page.
- Promotion: There are three promotional emails:
an early-bird promotion, regular promotion, and a last minute
reminder. An event poster (to download) allows members to get the
news out to their colleagues and associates, both in and beyond
their work area. Depending upon the topic, cross promotion with
local organizations, such as IPAC, should be on your promotion
- Event Manager: Ideally the event manager is
now having a relaxing breakfast (or lunch) as all of the pieces
fall into place. However, if digital projector is missing, the
speaker is delayed in traffic or the fire alarm goes off - the
event manager is the Go-To person to get the session back on
- Single Presentation Deck: The advantage of
combining the various speakers' decks into a single deck is that
you can insert biographies, transition and break slides. Post the
presentation deck to the event registration page the night before
so that audience members can follow along on their laptops,
tablets, or other smart devices.
- Time Cards: A Toastmasters technique, time
cards keep the program on track. These are preferred over the red
"STOP" card, which everyone dreads.
- Record the Event: If you are planning to
produce post-event notes, or you are hosting a webinar, consider
recording the event. The Edmonton Chapter uses a digital voice
recorder to tape the proceedings. If you are technically savvy,
plug it into the sound board. For those less technically inclined,
simply leave it taping near a sound speaker.
- Enable Text-a-Question: Audience members who
are a somewhat shy can text in their questions. Questions are
edited as required.
- Post-Event Notes: After the event, you may
wish to produce post-event notes. These notes are a summary of the
speaking points of each presentation and any discussions or
questions. Due to the editing and layout involved, many authors
consider post-event notes to be a writing credit.
- Event-Debrief: Finally, no event goes
You are encouraged to share your resources with all FMI Chapters
by using the comment box of the Resource Locker; and placing them
in the categories of idea generation, planning tools, and
communication and promotion.
Planning à la Carte
The above resources should be seen as a menu of tools, not a
prescription of activities to follow. Many of the tools can be
ignored or simplified for a simpler single-speaker event. A larger
or more complex learning event may require an online project plan
and possibly a collaboration site to share documents and
Can Ideas and Resources be Shared Outside of FMI?
Absolutely! The resources and methods listed above can be
re-purposed to run a hockey team awards night, a CPA luncheon or a
company picnic to name a few. Please use and re-purpose the ideas
and resources, as this demonstrates the value, networking and
leadership of FMI in our communities. When using the ideas and
resources please include a note of acknowledgement, such as the
This idea originated with the Financial Management Institute
of Canada (fmi*igf) and is used with permission under Creative
Commons (Non-commercial). We thank the FMI for sharing their ideas
and will let them know how their idea worked out for us.
Organization of this event was
partially- (fully-) based on an event organization methodology
developed by the volunteers of the Financial Management Institute
of Canada (fmi*igf) and is used with permission under Creative
Commons (Non-commercial). We thank the FMI for sharing their
methods and will let them know how it worked out for us.
Locker or a Tomb?
The problem with online resources is that they can become stale,
get spammed or get buried in the graveyard of good intentions.
Hopefully, the Idea and Resource Lockers will not succumb to this
and will instead be seen as valuable resources for all FMI
Chapters. Events that are listed in the fmi*igf e-Journal's
"Chapter News" will be copied to the Idea Locker on the Chapter's
behalf. Future issues of the fmi*igf e-Journal will include a small
feature called "The Locker," in which new, highly-rated or popular
resources are listed. In conclusion, if you have a great event,
idea or tool, please save it in the Locker!