Ask any event planner: pulling off a successful, memorable event is both a science and an art. If you ask any non-event planner or first-timer, you’re more likely to hear, “It’s a logistical nightmare” or “I never even thought of half the things we have to plan for” or “How in the world is this all going to come together in time?”
Never fear: we’ve been through this rodeo a time or two, and we have a few pieces of wisdom to share so you get the most out of your next event.
How well do you know your audience? Even if it’s just a core group is engaged and actively participating, this energy spreads to the rest of the attendees. You’ve worked hard to get butts in seats, so think of ways you can foster engagement. If you’re hosting a panel, survey the registered attendees ahead of time via email, Eventbrite or a Twitter poll, and incorporate findings or questions into the panel discussion. Leave plenty of time for an audience Q&A – really, your audience can drive the discussion. This event is for them, after all.
If you’re hosting a get-together or networking event, create an open playlist for guests to contribute to, or allow registrants to vote for their favorite cocktail or beer and then provide the top few at the event (this is a great conversation starter and a fun stat to share). There are so many creative ways to showcase who’s in the room, but it all comes down to knowing the attendee profiles, so be sure to take that into account during the planning process.
Is your event Instagram-able? If you’re hosting a public event, you want to make it as easy as possible for attendees to post about it on social media while they’re there. Create an event hashtag, share your company’s – as well as any guest speakers’ – Twitter handles, create a photo booth or step and repeat banner, or create a Snapchat filter. It doesn’t hurt to verbally encourage attendees to snap photos or tweet takeaways, either.
Ready to go live? Extend your event beyond those in the room and take it to Facebook Live. You’ll be able to reach people who couldn’t attend, plus help promote your future events. If you have guest speakers, make sure you give them a heads up that you’re planning to stream the event. Do a test run prior to the real deal, as well – you want to make sure you find a good filming location(s) so your subjects are in view and the sound quality is good.
Have you planned for post-event marketing? Yes, your event hasn’t even happened yet, but you still need to think about after-the-fact. How do you plan to follow up with attendees? Will you need their email addresses to send a special offer or presentation slides? How will you create marketing content from the event’s content? Make sure you capture photos, video or speaker notes.
Can you get more bang for your buck? Events are an investment – even if you’re keeping it minimal budget-wise, planning time adds up. So, think about ways you can get a two-for-one deal. If you have customers and partners attending, can you slot some time and space to film customer testimonials? Or perhaps you have a videographer on hand to film B-roll for future company videos, or perhaps a photographer to get some professional shots of your office space for recruitment marketing.
Where’s the bathroom? Last but certainly not least, these are a few logistics to consider – all of this happens in the background but affects the guest experience.
Make sure any food you provide is served at the right temperature and stays that way throughout the event. Not everyone enjoys cold pizza. Or warm drinks.
Put recycling and garbage cans in a visible, easy-to-access location.
Make sure there’s adequate signage for the restrooms.
Provide a Wi-Fi code. (This also makes it easier for attendees to share the event on social media – a double win for you.)
Have a first-aid kit on hand. You just never know.
One bonus piece of advice: Regularly ask your team to share their favorite parts of events they’ve attended. Most are likely showing up at networking events or walking tradeshow floors, and you’ll get insight from what’s memorable from other business events to what the best tradeshow tchotchkes are.
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