You are packing your bags, checking your tickets and getting excited about meeting up with colleagues from afar. You know where you are going, where you are staying and have a detailed map of what is to come, down to the timings of those all important coffee breaks.
We have been to several events like this over the years. And have just recently, been involved in the organisation of a large conference. Queue Repetitive Strain Injury, blurred vision and shouting out presentation names in our sleep…Only joking; Sort of.
Here is our whistle stop tour on organising and delivering a successful event.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN SOME MORE, PLAN….
So you get the point. It’s obvious, I know, but bypass the basics and boy you are in big trouble. Set clear objectives for the event, pin down a budget and form a timeline, which will include deadlines for securing speakers, acts, presentation titles, bookings etc. Devise a job list and delegate, keeping clear lines of communication between everyone doing those jobs. Don’t ever underestimate the amount of planning, time and probably sweat that is required to take on the organisation and hosting of an event. When you have a framework in place, you can get on with the details within it.
SET A THEME FOR THE EVENT
This sets the stage, allowing your guests to get a feel for the aim of the conference and how it will benefit them. Do this at the beginning, and it will ensure speakers have a clear direction when it comes to producing their presentations, so when the time comes you have a collection of focused presentations in line with your theme and importantly, of value to your guests.
CHOSE THE RIGHT VENUE
Sounds obvious, I know. But you would be amazed at how a venue can entirely change the feel of an event and make or break it when it comes to your guests having a good time. Cost will obviously be involved in that decision and when you know the budget, you can get down to the nitty gritty of choosing an appropriate place to host. Once you have chosen a convenient and accessible venue, spend time there before hand. A visit or two is a must, to meet the staff, sample the food and an all important one for me….to ensure the provision of great coffee. (we all have our vices!)
TALK THE TALK
You want to host a successful event that is brimming with ideas, creativity, and in particular information that will be valuable to your guests, so you need to make sure they know about it. Communicating your plans is crucial and it is never too early to start blowing your own trumpet, so to speak.
Make it known to your guests what will be on offer and who will be headlining, giving their time to stand up on stage and deliver.
Communication strategies need not be complicated but making full use of social media platforms has never been so important. Create spoilers, and give snippets of information to entice, all the while tagging and mentioning as you go. This will allow everyone involved a chance to engage beforehand and will create real spirit around the event. You want to be talking about your event before, during and after!
Go for that extra little spark and ensure that you have live posting during the event, we have found that to be a real winner. A tweet here and a facebook post there to keep people in the loop and create the potential to build connections and networks.
Never underestimate having a professional photographer throughout the event. Producing live pictures and videos from the day is an incredible way to showcase far and wide. It produces vibrancy and is a real treat for guests to have great quality images of their participation. (always ensure guests are photo consented prior to any event beginning )
Providing live content with media gives a real edge and running it in a close knit team makes the process much more efficient.
We have recently used this approach with a three person team covering photography, videography and live posting…this allowed direct passage of photos and videos to our social media team mate, and voila…beautiful media streaming as fast as you can hit ‘post’. This strategy, quite frankly ran as smooth as silk.
SET THE SCENE
Last but not least, don’t forget good stage management. All eyes are going to be upfront so it needs to be pleasing to the eye and comfortable for your guest speakers. Don’t over clutter or complicate, but make sure your presence is felt by way of imagery; banners are a great investment for this.
Enjoy the run up, believe in your event and give it the time it deserves. But most importantly enjoy the day. Don’t let all that hard work be for nothing, and even though you probably won’t be putting your feet up and relaxing, you can certainly take comfort in knowing that you are as prepared as you can be!