2017 seems to be my year to attend events and conferences.  I have already attended four and have several more on the schedule.

Events. Conferences. Seminars. Workshops. All have one thing in common – people who attend them.  They are also complicated to do well and require careful planning to be successful.  I  have extensive experience with events and have been asked on numerous occasions to manage them for clients.  Here are the six key ingredients for a successful event – the secret seventh ingredient is at the end:

  1. Be clear on your purpose. Events can run the gamut from pure celebrations to inciting action to fundraising.  We have often found that an event isn’t necessarily the best approach for some purposes.  When you are honest about your purpose, the action steps to achieve your objectives are much clearer. Assuming it is an event, go to the next ingredient.
  2. Give yourself time to plan. People are busy. Not just your attendees; event planners too! When you think about who you want at your event and what it will take to deliver the event (venue, programming, catering, etc.) make sure you give yourself sufficient time to make it happen and give your potential attendees sufficient notice to put it in their calendars.
  3. Make sure you understand the costs involved. Events are expensive. Developing a detailed budget that anticipates the costs involved and allows a contingency is important. If attendees will be charged a fee to attend, the break event/profit/loss calculations are critically important to both know and manage.
  4. Recruit the right audience to attend. As noted above, people are busy. You need to give them time to get the event in their calendars and if you are charging a fee, time to get budget approval to attend.  Attracting the right audience means being clear on your target group and appealing to them in your pre-event marketing/invitations, etc.  People need to know why your event is a must attend and what they will get from attending – even if it is only to be seen in the company of others.  By the way, the easier you make it to say,” yes,” the better.
  5. Execute with excellence. It may seem obvious. But a fantastic learning event can be derailed by inadequate or uncomfortable seating, a hot room or terrible food.  Whatever you promised your audience ahead of time, make good on the promise and if possible go above and beyond.
  6. Measure your performance. Experience is a great teacher.  Getting feedback on the success measures you set at the beginning will help you plan for the future.  Measures can include financial success, media coverage, attendee follow-up, etc.

The seventh ingredient – hire professionals.  It may not be rocket science or brain surgery but having a successful event with these seven ingredients can make the difference between achieving your objectives or failing very publicly.  Put your best foot forward by ensuring you have the right ingredients, including experienced professionals can also help you avoid headaches and pitffalls.

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