What does a great event experience feel like for an attendee? That is the first question that should be asked before budgets, logistics, venue, what do you want the experience to be for the audience? Now, close your eyes and imagine the best event you have ever attended. How did it make you feel? Recently I was brainstorming with our Meetings and Events team about the ingredients for a successful event-what is needed-and what to avoid and how to make it memorable and there are 11 key steps, that when they are done right, will turn your attendees into super fans. In this episode, you find exactly what you need to create the best experiences for your internal and external stakeholders.
Has this happened to you, when you feel totally excited about an event, only to realize once you are there that it isn’t living up to your expectation? In the face-to-face industry there are not only trade show experiences, which we talk about a lot here on the show-there are events with the show-it can be your company’s event like a Pre-Con Meeting, Sales Meeting, Executive Level Meetings or if you work for an association, you may plan networking events. All of these experiences combined create the experience for the attendee.
“Whether you are focused on internal customers or external-the outcome is always the same-and based on one question we all ask-Was it worth my time?”
Here are four examples of events that either exceeded exceptions or were a surprise when they didn’t:
Recently I went to a big name event locally here in Chicago. I like to continue my education and expand horizons and this one stood out for two reasons-two big CNBC names (one of them is an inventor on Shark Tank) and one inspirational leader who I love. It was an all-day event and the female speaker who was the keynote-was to come on at the end of the day-like 5 PM-which seemed crazy to me. Fire up your audience at least in the middle! Sadly I was unable to stay until the end- and missed seeing the top person I wanted to see.
In contrast to this event, three events that truly stand out in my past were put on by Social Media Examiner-and Social Media Marketing world and events with Chalene Johnson and Amy Porterfield. The common result in all three is that my expectations were exceeded. And in the case of the Amy Porterfield event, thanks to encouragement from my friend Susan Crawford who attended with me, I launched this podcast after attending Amy’s event.
You may be asking- “How do I create an event that will delight our attendees?
11 Tips to Achieving the Best Event Ever
- Know what your audience really wants. Internal customers-and this can be for any event-a luncheon, town hall, national sales meeting or external for clients. What does success look like for them? I bet if asked the attendees you might get some differing opinions and some that are all the same. At the heart-was it worth my time will sound out above everything else.
- Offer value beyond what is expected. Some of you may host events where you sell tickets or an association that holds networking events. Regardless of the event, if you deliver one thing that is unexpected, your attendee will feel that they got value. It could be as simple as giving out the slide presentation. Or it can be bigger like having an app where attendees can connect together. Whatever it is, the element of surprise will create mass appreciation for your effort.
- Speakers Matter. If you are creating an event where people will hear someone speaker, having a key opinion leader or multiple really makes a difference.
- Communicate The WIFM. Internal and external audiences share one thing-they are all consumers. When we think about whether something is worth our time, we evaluate it based on our understanding of the value proposition. If you are hosting a town hall-make sure you share the exciting things that the attendee will learn by attending. Symposia, what will the attendee find that they didn’t know before coming to the session. Evening event with speakers-who are they and why would your attendee care to hear them.
- Include networking. You may be saying-I do only internal meetings, why should I include networking everyone already knows each other—because they don’t really know each other. Our meetings and events team plans employee dinners for one of our clients and the feedback is always incredible. The sales reps truly appreciate the chance to talk to leaders in the organization and eachother. And Bonus alert-if you do an employee event tied to a trade show-it can count as Cost Avoidance – and help increase your payback ratio and ultimately ROI for the event.
- Provide Radical Hospitality. How are you greeting the attendee at your event? If you have a presentation where customers are attending (this also applies to internal customers as well!) how are they greeted, what is the experience like when they enter the room? Do you welcome them and make them feel at ease or simply check a name off the list. Now think about what you want to feel and flip the switch-the attendee wants the same thing!
- Offer Speaker Planning. It goes without saying that things like AV need to function, and the speakers should all be prepared on what they are talking about. There is a planning process to execution and not only logistics need to be mapped out but what the speakers will be doing and saying. Speakers like to know in advance the topic, and what it is you need from them. Host calls with everyone who will be speaking to ensure they are fully prepared.
- Include Exceptional Outreach and Promotion. Before the event-how are you communicating this event? Find ambassadors who will evangelize the event for you to help create buzz before the event.
- Train the Onsite Team. Before the event-meet with the team, set up how you will welcome attendees-is there a buddy system you might use to introduce people at a networking event? Make sure all customer facing people whether volunteer or employee can answer basic questions and know where to go for answers when they don’t know.
- Evaluate Venues and Budgets. Not all locations are equal. If you are at a meeting and restricted to the conference room the association offers-evaluate the layout of the room and what is needed to create the best experience for people in that room. Budgets play a factor in location-and there are things you can do to negotiate rates that will make it more affordable-stay tuned we will have that information in an upcoming episode with our events team!
- Follow Up Post – Event. So many of us are running, busy beyond 24 hours in a day and we rush to the next event without a follow up to the one you just had. Conduct an internal survey and external survey. For help with this, our results division has all the tools you need to get data you can use to help formulate planning and evaluate success of an event.
We have only scratched the surface here. If I can leave you with one thing it is this:
People need to feel like their time is valued.
When you create your next amazing event, if you treat every attendee like they are the most important person in the room-they will remember! Our meetings and events team is very talented and can help provide guidance, if you feel stuck you can get advice from the experts.
And one final exciting note. Rock Your Trade Show is planning our first ever face-to-face event in January 2020! We will have senior leaders from the show, and even some surprise speakers for an incredible event. If you are interested in attending reach out to me!. I will also share details in a coming episode.
Special thanks to our incredible Meetings & Events Team for helping plan our upcoming event!
Resources from this Episode
The Chalene Show with Chalene Johnson
Build Your Tribe with Chalene Johnson
Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner
Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield
Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
Entrepreneurs on Fire with John Lee Dumas
Books Superfans by Pat Flynn