By Misti Buard
Capturing and keeping an audience’s attention is one of the most crucial factors to remember when planning a corporate meeting or event.
From promoting the event beforehand to managing potential distractions, here are six tips to help you amp up the excitement and interest at your next event:
1. Get to know your target audience
Before planning your next event, take some time to learn as much as possible about your target audience. Survey potential attendees to understand their likes and dislikes. Ask about other events they’ve attended and what made it memorable. Be brave and learn what was not-so-memorable about past events as well.
Listen to the pertinent details of why they enjoyed the event and what they felt the event might have been lacking. After compiling answers from 15 – 20 attendees, create a strategy using the information you’ve gathered.
Learning about the attendees’ expectations will not only help you deliver, but it will help you exceed their expectations.
2. Create a promotion strategy
Every audience is different. After getting to know your audience, you can create a compelling promotional strategy. Some individuals are planning to attend your event before promotion begins, while others may not be aware of your event.
Some questions that you must ask yourself are:
- How far in advance should I begin promoting the event?
- What tools will I use to promote the event to increase awareness?
- What is the message that I want to convey?
If there is an event that is similar to the one you’re planning, look at their strategy, their message and their graphics. Reviewing information about your competitor gives you the upper hand. You can then determine ways to be more captivating.
Remember, if you are planning to have sponsors at your event, the earlier you begin promoting, the more sponsorships you’re likely to secure.
3. Be innovative
Let’s face it — annual events can become very repetitive. The attendees know exactly what to expect. The only change may be the keynote speaker.
Be creative! What can you do differently at your next event? Put a spin on it! If it is a conference that offers continuing education, add some fun by placing an interactive station in an open area. Setup a Wii or other video game station and watch attendees enjoy “Dance Revolution” while taking the edge off.
If your event is only for a day and you want to create excitement as soon as the event begins, place a prize under a pair of seats. Once the room is full tell the audience that there are a pair of tickets to a local sporting event or attraction and that everyone must look under their seats in order to find the winner. This definitely drives excitement!
4. Delegate tasks
As a meeting planner, it can be very hard to trust someone to help you with tasks. After all, it is your name that is on the line. Though it is hard, delegation is necessary in order to host an event. Study the behaviour of potential individuals and form a team.
Understand each individual’s strengths, and place them in charge of a task that you wholeheartedly know they’ll execute well.
Conducting weekly meetings with your team is a necessity. Weekly meetings will ensure that everyone has the most up-to-date information and allows the team to make any necessary adjustments. Take time to express your expectations and provide them with a plan on how to be successful.
Once you’ve assigned tasks to trustworthy individuals, you can focus on other pertinent details.
5. Be prepared for the inevitable
Murphy’s Law states it very clear: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
The great thing about knowing Murphy’s Law is that you can prepare Plan B and Plan C. One way to do this is by simply learning from the past. Review your notes from last year’s event and create an action plan to ensure that those issues do not recur.
Of course it is impossible to think of everything that may not go as planned, but you can be proactive versus reactive.
6. Last, but not least…
Build rapport with the venue. Many times meeting planners are so focused on their tasks that they forget to create a positive relationship with the venue. Once you have a strong relationship with a venue, they will go above and beyond to ensure that you and your event are successful.
How can you build rapport with the venue? Easy answer — by being nice. Share your expectations with the venue, share mistakes that were made in the past, and remember that they are a part of your team.
About the author
Misti Buard is a marketing coach who specializes in helping corporate and independent meeting planners create more excitement for their events. Buard began her marketing and meeting planning career 10 years ago. Planning trade shows, conferences and corporate training events for the organic food, legal and healthcare industries has allowed her to gain skills that she enthusiastically shares with other event planners. For more information visit www.mistibuard.com.