Attendees: The most important part of your event is your attendees. Create an event that inspires and engages them. Every part of your program should be designed with your audience in mind. Create a memorable experience for them.
Budget: How much money are you working with? Remember, your budget needs to cover your venue, food, décor, speaker, entertainment, and more. Plan ahead and budget accordingly. Create the “best show for the dough.”
Community: Why is this word on the list? Because you want your event to bring people together. Think about all of the ways your meeting can create a feeling of camaraderie. Your mission: Celebrate your people and the culture of your organization.
Date: You’d be surprised how many event coordinators don’t give this more attention. The timing of your event can be critical. Are you about to launch a new product? Are you celebrating first quarter sales? When are your key leaders available? Would a holiday party in early January accommodate your attendees better than having the party in December? Picking the right date can make or break your event.
Entertainment: Meetings are serious business. But remember: Your people want to laugh and enjoy themselves. Make sure your meeting is fun. A live entertainer, musical performer, clean comedian, or funny magician, can go a long way toward creating wonderful memories for your audience. Look for a performer who can both entertain and engage your group.
Food: Everyone loves delicious food. But don’t blow your entire budget on a fancy 5-course sit-down meal. Select tasty food and let people serve themselves. A beautiful buffet meal will delight your guests more than a plated dinner that drags on. Plus it will allow them to select the foods that appeal to them. Bonus: Hosting a buffet will keep your program about 45-minutes tighter and on schedule!
Goal: Know exactly what you want to accomplish at your event? Is this a celebration? A sales meeting? An awards show? Design your program so the “big takeaway” is crystal clear to all your attendees.
Housekeeping: Have you considered the many small details that affect your attendees? Even the smallest item is important. Where are the restrooms? What is the dress code for the evening? Will attendees need childcare? Think through all of the phases of your program from an attendee’s perspective.
Invitations: Who would you like to see at this event? Send them a compelling invitation. A printed and personalized invitation is still the classiest way to go. Extra points for hand-addressing the invite and using a live stamp. But use any method of communicating that helps you get people in seats—email, e-vite, phone calls, texts. Get your attendees excited about attending. Oh, and tell them exactly how to RSVP or confirm.
Jam-packed: The closer your audience gets, the better your program gets. The laughter and applause will feel electric when you pack the room tight. Big No-No to avoid: A giant dance floor between your stage and your attendees. Select a venue or ballroom where your guests will say, “Wow, they really packed this out” instead of “Man, this place feels like a barn.”
Keynote: The term “keynote” comes from the world of music. A note is struck that sets the tone for a song or concert. You want your keynote speaker to set the tone for your meeting or conference. Give him/her your theme and share your vision for the program. The best keynote speakers not only educate but also empower your people and are in tune with your agenda.
Lights & Sound: Don’t neglect the Audio-Visual piece of your event. Make sure your group can see—this means good lighting–and hear what your presenters are doing and saying. AV includes your video pieces. Make sure they can be seen and heard. A sound system with floor-based speakers—not audio speakers up in the ceiling—will sound best.
Master of Ceremonies: A great M.C. can turn a good event into a great event. He/she can make your attendees laugh with tasteful humor, keep things moving with seamless transitions, and fill in if there are any “glitches.” Hire a pro to host your program. You won’t regret
Negotiate: Don’t go cheap, but don’t be afraid to get the best prices for great value. Everything is negotiable: speaker fees, hotel prices, food, vendor services, even decorations. Go for the best quality and the best prices to maximize the impact of your event budget.
On Time: Show your guests you respect and value them by keeping your program tight and on time. If you want to impress, start on time and end on time. Have your speakers stick within their allotted times, and don’t allow breaks to linger on and on. Leave your group wanting
more, not wanting to leave.
Producer: Who is in charge of your event? Make sure everybody involved with your event knows who is running the show. This could be you, or a professional event producer. Just make sure one person has the reigns—and the authority—to run your meeting. Important: Your event producer should be the one conducting the Talk-Thru pre-event meeting.
Quotes: Get written quotes and estimates for every item or service you are buying/renting. How much for flowers? What is your AV company charging? Are there extra fees for running overtime? Do you have an estimate for the cost of liability insurance coverage for the venue? Getting quotes before the event will help you avoid unpleasant surprises (and charges) after the event!
Run Sheet: Make sure you have a run sheet. What is a “run sheet”? It is the blueprint for your meeting. Print it out on one single page and distribute it to everyone who is participating on stage or backstage at your event. This is your working schedule, an event timeline
that breaks down who is doing what and when. This is one of the most valuable suggestions on this list.
Staging: Lift UP what you want to highlight at your event. Literally. Invest in a stage or riser—don’t forget the steps. It makes a huge difference. Good staging sends your audience a message: What you are about to see and hear is important so we have elevated it.
Talk-thru pre-event meeting: Don’t neglect this. About 30 minutes before your start time, gather your troops (your M.C., speakers, A.V. team, and event producer) in a small meeting room and talk through your on stage program. This reinforces what everybody is doing. Get everyone on the same page before you hit the stage. Note: Sometimes a full rehearsal is in order. But even if you do a full rehearsal, do the talk-thru meeting too.
Updates: Keep everybody involved with your event—your production team, speakers, vendors, and catering manager—current. Inform them of the Who? What? Where? And Whens? Do not assume everybody knows what’s going on or where to be. Fill them in!
Venue: This may be THE most important of the 26 tips. Your attendees care about where the event is held. Remember, the nuts and bolts of the meeting are probably more important to you and your boss than they are to your audience. So find a venue that is appealing…even unusual. Note: If you need to be in a conventional space like a hotel ballroom, use décor and set pieces to make it pleasing to the eye, fun, and original looking.
Welcome: This is important! Have upbeat (but not obnoxious) music playing as your guests arrive. Invite a key leader (i.e. the CEO or President of the organization) up to the platform to officially welcome your attendees to your event. This is not a big speech but a brief heart-felt welcome. Then turn things over to your M.C.
X-factor: What can you add to your event that will make it unforgettable? The X-factor might be a special gift for each person in attendance. Maybe you bring in a celebrity or honor a legendary employee. You could hire a local marching band or have a famous chef prepare
your dinner. How can you wow them?
Yippee! The best meetings feel like parties. Celebrate your group’s success. Honor key achievers or retirees. Make your award winners feel like the champions they are. No one likes a dour event. Turn up the good times via music, laughter, and audience involvement.
Zzzs: Producing an awesome event requires tons of energy. Don’t forget to take care of you. You don’t want to put your audience to sleep! But it’s critical that you get plenty of sleep before the event. You want to be alert and on your game at the meeting, so get good rest and good nutrition before your big night.