Events deliver on so many levels, people enjoy meeting face-to-face, they like and want experiences but as an organiser, how can you ensure that your event is going to deliver for everyone involved?
In our latest blog series, Tips for Successful Events, we look at the stages of an event, from your reasons for hosting to marketing your event, the day itself and evaluating the success.
Up next…the event itself
The event itself will go by in a flash so it’s important to think about the finer details in the run-up so that you have most eventualities covered. Here are our observations to get you thinking…
Capacity - we’ve all been to conferences where the most popular sessions are standing room only. It’s very difficult to predict numbers where delegates have a choice of sessions but there are some things that you can do in advance that might help.
- Survey delegates ahead of the event to see which sessions they are interested in – it will give you a good indication for which sessions are going to be most popular
- Have a policy whereby doors are closed once all seats are occupied to stop overcrowding, this might also help to get delegates seated in time!
- If possible, plan a rerun of most popular sessions, either early or later in the day so those that missed out can still participate
- Look for rooms that can be quickly extended or partitioned so that you have the flexibility to grow or reduce the space accordingly
- Create a café area where sessions can be followed outside of the main room, clever use of audio-visual technology can enable a room of delegates to listen and watch whatever session they want to tune into.
Comfort - look back at your objectives for hosting the event and consider how your audience might best interact, whether that’s to learn or to network, the room style will have an impact on the outcome, and the comfort and experience of every attendee.
- Where possible involve your audience in designing the event agenda. You could ask them how they learn best or what style of networking they prefer. Consider a ‘festival’ style event; research shows greater levels of engagement are possible if delegates can choose to interact with a brand in different ways
- Is your event intended to be formal or informal? If appropriate, remove barriers between the audience and the speakers so that the audience can feel closer to the action. Lecterns, whilst hugely convenient, can create a physical barrier, consider a lectern made from a clear material or no lectern at all
- Mix things up a little, take a look at these creative setups from Kongress Magazine
- Plan your event so the longer sessions are at the start of the day and make sessions progressively shorter towards the end of the day
- Factor in a post-lunch slump and include some downtime, it’s for consolidating knowledge; delegates will thank you if they have the opportunity to take a walk or make calls.
Catering style – coffee and food are always hot topics at any event, get it right and you’ll have a happy audience but get it wrong and your event could be remembered for all of the wrong reasons.
- Keep exhibitors happy and guarantee footfall by placing refreshment stations throughout the exhibition space, have multiple stations so that queues don’t form and so delegates can get served quickly
- Buffet style lunch options are popular but make sure that attendees have somewhere to sit or ‘perch’ if they want to. There’s nothing worse than having to juggle plates, crockery, cups and glasses whilst trying to have a conversation!
- Have multiple food stations to avoid queuing or provide the same options at either end of the buffet table then create a queue from the centre, so that people can go either way, to avoid a long queue forming at one end!
- One of the best catering experiences we have had is at a conference where the catering room was set up like a food market and where you could approach different ‘stalls’ for different options. The stalls were repeated at intervals which meant no queuing at all and everyone got their lunch very quickly.
- If your event takes place over several days, make sure you offer different food options each day, or if possibly different styles, a popular alternative to a buffet is a picnic box or lunch bag, or perhaps you could offer all options…
- Consider all dietary requirements and think healthy, increasing dopamine and serotonin will be beneficial! The IACC has a very useful guide to the minefield that is managing conference delegates’ dietary requirements. It’s available as a free download
For more Tips for Successful Events, check out other blogs in this series: