Planning an event can be a daunting experience. Any missteps can have critical repercussions for your mission and your brand down the line, so it is important to develop a robust strategy while you are in your planning phase, and then refine the details later. As the expression goes, you want to have your “ducks in a row” before you begin any active preparations.
Here at Zest Global Events we have identified a top 10 list of the most important items to remember when planning a corporate event, business meeting or training seminar. These will help ensure your event runs smoothly and will lessen the chance of you hitting any unforeseen issues as you go along.
Holding events are a wonderful idea, it’s great to ‘get everyone together’ but do remember to identify what the purpose of the event is, the overall goal and objective. What do you want to achieve, who is attending and what do you want them to leave thinking or doing? And so make certain there is a clear mission and business reason to hold the event, such as a launch of a new product, an international meeting of regional heads, or the annual conference. With clearly defined objectives, you will get further return on your investment and will attract the right people, further your mission and achieve your objectives.
Depending on the type of event you are holding and your business, you should carefully consider who should be invited to your event. What do you want your attendees to get from the event? Do you want them to take key messages back to the business? Is it to share your strategy or vision, to launch a product, train your staff, network or build stronger teams? Defining your target audience by selecting those who really need to be there rather than because of their position, will ensure you get a great return on your investment.
In today’s world there are many different ways of communicating with your target audience. Research shows that potential delegates prefer to receive invitations via email, although these can get lost in the inbox at times. Smart, quality, card invitations sent by post are also making a comeback. Make your invitation stand out and make the event sound interesting and engaging and try to personalise your invitation.
Making sure you select the right location and venue will set the right tone. It’s important to think about where your attendees are coming from. Is it easy to travel there, does the venue have accommodation if they need to stay? What does the venue say about your company, it should reflect your brand, messaging and image? What is the purpose of the event and is the venue a good match? It is a fine art finding and selecting the right venue, the environment you want to be in and making sure it hits the mark!
These are the elements which can take so much time to organise. They may seem like the small things, given, it’s the content that the attendees are really there for, however if it goes wrong, these are the things everyone remembers. Is the event space you booked suitable for the number of guests, does the venue have WIFI, what are the catering options, is there space for registration and networking, are there spaces for breakout sessions or break times, are the chairs comfortable, what is the quality of food like and so the list goes on. Taking time to properly consider these will pay dividends. Your event will run smoothly and the delegates will be talking about the great content. Engaging an event planning company to assist with the logistics can often free you up to concentrate on the content.
So once the foundations are in place, think about how you will keep your delegates engaged at the event. The content and messaging are key. What do you want to say, How do you want to engage your audience and how will you keep it interesting. Adding in elements such as ice breaker games, high profile speakers or if you have selected a venue of interest a tour can add another interesting element to your event. Think about the wider audience, do you need to engage others within or outside of your organisation. Social Media can be a great way to share messaging and content via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, You Tube and any internal networks you have such as Microsoft’s Yammer.
This is often a hot topic, should there be giveaways, what should they be, do you have the budget, what is the purpose, will they be used, do we need to promote a product or new brand etc? These questions are often asked. Providing your event attendees with some kind of giveaway is a nice way to thank them for supporting you at your event. Depending on your company or organisation, you might be able to give away an existing product you already have or seek sponsors for giveaways from your partner businesses and clients, so you don’t have to spend additional funds on promotional items for one-time use. We often source unusual corporate gifts for our clients, whether it’s a branded PopSocket or a power bank the more relevant it is the better. However be aware that it’s better for mission-driven businesses to give away nothing than to use promotional items in conflict with your values and principles.
Any event needs to be properly staffed so it’s imperative that you have your staff on board for the occasion. If you are using an external Event Planner, they will be able to provide you with staff to manage the event logistics of your event to allow you to look after your VIP’s and speakers and to ensure the content is on track. Whether using your own team or an external supplier, engage them in the planning process and seek their views and input. Make a schedule that everyone is comfortable with and accommodates your team members’ personal lives. Start the event with a buoyant and motivated team and the rest will follow.
Keeping a history of your event is good for many reasons. Sharing your event via your website or intranet is a great way to show community interaction and another side to your company or organisation. This requires photos but doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a professional photographer. If your budget allows for it, great. If not, talk to your employees and find out if anyone enjoys photography as a hobby or has a natural inclination for taking great photos. Ask that person if they’d be willing to take some shots of the event. Just remember, if you intend to use photos with identifiable people in it, you’ll need to get photo releases. Also, capturing quotes by doing vox pops or having a vlog box is a fun way to capture delegates thoughts as the event progresses and is another great way to document the success of the event. Quotes can be used, again with permission, on your website and in future marketing materials, if applicable. If your budget allows and you want to use content from the sessions, hire a videographer to capture the speakers and then spend time editing the key messages into a wrap up video. If relevant to your event or business encourage your delegates to comment on the event via social media, provide them with a #hashtag that can be attached to their tweets and posts and will enable others to follow the build up. This can then be used as a great way of sharing information to the delegates as well.
Would you like to find out what your delegates thought of the event? Perhaps look at using an event app to track feedback or a voting system to answer various questions through the event. Another way to capture feedback is by sending a survey after the event has taken place. Research shows surveys sent on the day of the event electronically get the greatest responses. Keep your questions relevant, multiple choice but allow space for comments for those who have more to say! Always debrief and review with your team, the venue, the event planners at the end of the event. Find out what went well, what didn’t and what improvements could be made for the next event! It’s one of the most valuable meetings and helps shape future events.