Some observations, often learnt the hard way, that I have found help when putting together events that audiences say nice things about.
- Reconcile your objectives with that of your audience, especially if you want your events to be sustainable!
- Keep it simple – too much choice is often a bad thing!
- Have great people willing to share stories to an audience that cares to listen, learn and contribute.
- Avoid “I don’t know” – make sure everyone in your team is fully briefed and has a detailed event plan with critical contact details, so if they don’t know an answer to a guest’s question they can instantly find someone who does.
- Never sacrifice networking breaks, and locate them in spaces that encourage a Brownian motion effect *
- Don’t be afraid to share – live blogging, streaming, video interviews, interactive polls – why not? As long as you can afford to, and do them well!
- Don’t put sponsors on stage unless they have something the audience cares to hear about. Better to promote one of their clients with something interesting to say, who will often acknowledge the sponsor in a more meaningful and well received way than the sponsor could do themselves.
- Be open and honest when stuff goes awry (it always does) as people will generally not beat you up over it – but do make sure you have an exceptional AV technician on hand at all times!
- Acknowledge everyone involved at the end of the event, both publicly and privately (drinks, meal, paintball etc).
- Continue the conversation – just because the event has finished the ideas, stories and connections are only just beginning. Make sure your audience knows that you will provide a platform for guest blogs, pictures, videos, whatever, so that interesting stuff can be found, shared and iterated.
*An article about Brownian motion and Flocking Birds (I know, what a nerd!) attributes bird and other formations to the fluid balance between individuals escape and pursuit interactions. It struck me that successful event networking followed very similar principles, avoiding homogeneous distribution or massive clustering effects.