Just as concert pianists or major league athletes continually practice, hone, and sharpen their knowledge, skills, techniques, and abilities, amazing event managers are always assessing the existing attendee experience and adjusting to make it better.
Why? Because the minute you stop desiring and pushing to improve, the event and the attendees suffer.
We've put together 72 one-sentence tips to help keep you in peak event manager shape. Whether you want to focus on how you are developing business continuity for your annual meeting, your approach to event marketing, the innovation of your meeting and event design, or all of the above, you'll find some helpful hints and pearls of wisdom in this list.
- Think about your event as part of the company's long-range strategic initiatives, not a single one-off experience.
- Begin with the end in mind.
- Before you create a new event, take the time to complete discovery and identify the problems that potential attendees are likely dealing with.
- As you develop your strategic event plan, remember to stay focused on the five criteria for effective objective setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
- Remember, 43% of event attendees believe the value of face-to-face interactions will continue to increase over the next two years.
- To help determine and showcase the US business environment your event could be operating in, get up to date statistics on the event industry's growth and sales at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Set clear key performance indicators (KPIs) to help all internal and external stakeholders (including, but not limited to the event manager, the planning team, executive leaders, members and/or employees, key volunteers, suppliers and vendors, exhibitors, sponsors, attendees, and the local community) understand an event's goals and objectives, requirements, and constraints.
- When it comes to the first conference planning meeting, most stakeholders will want to talk about details that are important to them rather than the high-level event project plan, so while this means you shouldn't skip setting the stage for the entire event, make sure you're helping all of your stakeholders see how they'll play a role.
- Develop quality standards, policies, and procedures and remember to refer back to and continually update them to keep them up to date.
- Delegate-- don't try to do everything yourself-- remember that succession planning isn't just for the C-Suite and you actually can't clone yourself.
- Not everyone speaks event: help your attendees, volunteers, and other stakeholders and use words, not acronyms, in any material that is supposed to help them.
- Remember that a positive attitude (and a well-thought out back-up plan for your back-up plan) will make all the difference.
- Hold a dress rehearsal-- even if it's just a sound check (even for the professional, paid speakers).
- Defer to an attendee's communication preferences: if they'd clearly rather you email than social media message them (or vice versa), then do as he/she has requested.
- Help attendees build lasting relationships and connections before, during, and after your event.
- When writing a session description, help an attendee know quickly what they'll hear, what they'll learn, and how they'll apply what they've learned.
- Make it easy to track CEU credit.
- Remember to determine whether or not you need a license for the music you're playing.
- If at all possible, have a session host.
- Don't schedule a speaker during a meal.
- When in doubt, go for more engagement and interactivity.
- Always ask your speaker's room-set preference and then try to accomodate that, even if it means a bit more work for you.
- Order enough microphones and have a back up on hand.
- Keep accessibility in mind when planning your event.
- Keep your RFPs to no more than 2 pages.
- Typically, there isn't anything that can't be solved once you've had a little bit of sleep or water.
- Always have a crisis communication, an emergency response, a contingency, and a risk management plan on hand.
- Practice emergency response scenarios with your staff and volunteers.
- When an attendee criticizes you or the event, accept it gracefully rather than getting defensive -- an angry reaction will usually escalate the situation, but a customer-service driven response will make them likelier to be open to solutions.
- Always train your volunteers, staff, and any one who has an attendee-facing role BEFORE you get onsite.
- When creating a program agenda, don't be afraid of downtime.
- Underestimate sponsorship and revenue goals.
- Have a clearly communicated cancellation and refund policy for speakers, attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors.
- Never try to trump the fire marshal.
- Expect -- and plan for-- the unexpected.
- Remember, you are the person they will all look to and watch when things do go unexpectedly-- act accordingly.
- Silence and space give attendees a chance to process the information they've learned and make personal interactions with other attendees more possible.
- Don't be afraid to encourage your attendees to look and engage one step past where they are comfortable when it comes to education, networking, and technology.
- Pay your professional speakers when you can.
- ALWAYS be respectful to your AV team, they are one of your greatest partners and allies.
- Develop evaluation and audit procedures and then make sure that they are being used.
- Create a production timeline, a roles and responsibilities' sheet, a contact sheet, an on-site must-know information packet and put it all together in one cloud-based space so that everyone who needs to access it can access it.
- Do remember to help attendees out and provide easy to understand tools, trainings, and how-tos to better adopt when you do change things up though.
- Make the commitment to be more sustainable while giving yourself a much needed break and make this year the year you stop using paper registrations/evaluations and collect all data once through an online form or your event app.
- Personalize your marketing, communications, badges, and interactions with attendees by using the registration information they provide you.
- Don't overwhelm attendees with one Know Before You Go email; instead engage them through drip communication across multiple channels: email, social media, your mobile event app.
- Create a hybrid event and provide virtual and in person events for attendees to engage with your program.
- Develop an integrated marketing and communication plan.
- Learn how to say no while saying yes.
- What is good for your CEO, conference planning committee, and board isn't always good for your attendees; learn to identify the differences and how to persuade through your lateral influence when a critical moment arises.
- Consider crowdfunding as an option to raise money for something new you want to try at your event.
- You're gathering lots of data about your attendees; learn how to use it to make the attendee experience better.
- Stick to your budget and save money through "in-kind" sponsorships.
- Don't assume the benefits of your event are obvious -- lay out clearly why and how attendees should attend.
- Use video to promote your event.
- Encourage other attendees to help promote the event across social media or by word of mouth.
- Make it easy for your speakers to share with their followers that they are speaking at your event.
- Use speaker bureaus and speakers themselves as resources.
- Use discounting tiers for ticket prices: for example, early bird, regular, referral, first-timers, student.
- Don't be afraid to raise prices.
- Work with your venue catering team to have a menu that features more than chicken and is conscious of cultural and dietary needs.
- Transparency is always better than not sharing what you're up to: this is true for rebranding, disruptive changes to the agenda/program, announcements that affect more than 2 members in an association, and for any change at all to your conference's cultural zombie cows (and remember that being transparent is different than asking for permission) .
- It is okay to kill the cultural zombie cows, but tread lightly and bring people along with you.
- Buy the event insurance.
- Collaborate with your event sponsors and exhibitors -- they're more than a revenue line.
- Encourage your attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors to have fun and find common ground.
- Remember that the average event uses five promotional methods to publicize an event.
- Don't be afraid of event technology: it can help increase event attendance by 20%, increase event engagements by 70%, increase productivity by 27%, and decrease costs 20-30%
- Directly address complaints from attendees (don't be afraid to call attendees directly and ask more questions when you come across very specific and seemingly unreasonable complaints and ask them, "tell me more why you gave us this feedback"), and then make certain that you do improve.
- Saying thanks is an easy way to garner attendee loyalty and referrals.
- Your mantra should "Always Be Creating a Phenomenal Attendee Experience" rather than "Always Be Executing the Next Milestone".
- Never stop learning: keep your knowledge of the events industry up to date, take part in peer learning, and read industry news.
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