While managing an event in Japan we were advised to issue a nuclear warning in case of missile ‘attack’ from N. Korea. The instruction was sobering; “Tell people to run to the light”.
While our audience was global it was obvious that there were two entirely different cultures in the room – the Eastern, (run towards the light) and the Western, (run away from the light). Proof if ever it were needed that we should never generalise when thinking about our audiences.
While on the topic of events, here’s the checklist we give clients when planning a conference or event.
Be clear on the outcome. Do you want to create engagement, be interactive or simply share information? Put ‘people’ front of mind, not tools and tricks; who will your guests, contributors or suppliers be, what will they want from you and what do you need from them. Be sure to plan as early as possible to get the right people at the right time.
Have a clear theme and overarching set of messages. Are your speakers briefed and on message? Is your team engaged and aligned? Make sure your speakers and content are connected and think carefully about the various ‘handshakes’ between sessions – otherwise you expose your people and the wider business to ridicule.
Event plans can appear overwhelming. Yet a perfectly formed project team with appropriate skills, assigned to specific roles, avoids unnecessary duplication, confusion and overload. A team that’s clear on the plan also has an energy that can fuel you when you most need it. So ask yourself – do I have the right mix of willing and able people to hand?
How well can you cope under pressure? Are you good at anticipating changing needs and identifying potential risk? Do you have contingency plans? What goes on behind the scenes should stay there, but as an event planner, you need to be alert at all times. Things won’t always go to plan – so always have a few tricks, and a few energiser exercises up your sleeve.
Your event starts the moment you first engage with your audience – the invitation, the App, the branding will all influence perceptions. Are you setting realistic expectations? Are you using the right language? Are you telling people what you need from them? Build a robust Communication plan that sets the tempo from the first interaction and gets buy in from your team.
Whether you are a technophile or technophobe try innovative ways to communicate and consider different tools to engage and converse with audiences. Do you know what interactive events Apps are available and how to ensure they deliver maximum impact? Do you know what tools can be used to trigger all the senses (Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic)?
Events provide the perfect networking opportunity for your audience. So build in breaks and find engaging ways to increase connections among your audience. Find simple tools that can nudge people to connect and plug any technology you provide that can help.
Attention to detail is key to an extraordinary event. How do you want every person involved to think and feel? What do you want him or her to do as a result? How can you create the most impactful experience for them? Is it engaging a futurist, is it building a racing car or just prompting meaningful conversations that lead to decisions?
Learning from what’s been before will help you build even more successful future events. There are many ways to get feedback and measure your event – both while it is live, and after it is has closed. Never miss the chance to learn. What are the questions you need to ask to gain the best insight? What’s the simplest tool to capture feedback? What’s the one thing you would do again, and the one thing you would avoid at all costs?
Thoughts from Emily: To learn more or to discuss your event why not get in touch.