This is the second post in a series of four in event management, this one focusing on implementing successful conferences from two experienced event planners – Kate Whitehair and Tamsin Stanley at Zing.
Stage Two: Implementation
Create a theme that both stimulates and provokes. Themes can range from specific and aggressive to subtle and subconscious. Whichever you choose, the theme should be complementary to or elaborate upon the event’s objective and the values of the organisation They should be written in active voice.
Choose a suitable environment. Again, integration with the objective, values and theme is crucial. And while this tip may be obvious, select a location that’s easy to get to. In terms of facilities, does the venue have multiple options for different aspects of your event: indoor v. outdoor spaces, modular v. inflexible arrangements? Check to see what else might be scheduled on the same date as your event – everything from municipal or neighborhood events to internal calendars of the organisation or other departments.
Can you have a successful meeting on-site? Yes, but meetings held at the office or very close by have a particular set of challenges: primarily, that it’s easy for people to not fully engage because work is too accessible – both physically and mentally. Find ways to keep the office separate.
Invite the attendees. An invitation is more than a ‘save-the-date’. It’s the first point of contact the audience will have to the event, and should reflect the purpose and tease the take-away message. If the event is compulsory, the invitation should be ‘feel’ inclusive and beneficial.
Plan a suitable agenda. There are three critical elements of every good agenda.
- Content. What are the event messages and supporting proof, in detail? What stories and testimonials will make the messages real and believable?
- Delivery. What mood and environment will help make the objective, messages and learnings memorable? What activities will reinforce both objective and messages? What are the different learning styles of the participants, and how can each be accommodated?
- Presenters. Who facilitates the meeting to keep it focused but engaging? What speakers will deliver the messages? How to prepare and support the presenters to ensure they’re credible, relevant and – most of all – memorable? What speeches are necessary? What audio-visual is needed? How to rehearse? How to provide training, if necessary? How can theatrics dazzle without becoming overwhelming?
Use the principle of 10-75-15.
- 10% – The first part of the agenda includes introductions – to people, to objectives of the meeting – but at the same, should include ice-breakers, to get people up and moving, and to encourage them early to start participating and interacting with others, especially the facilitators and speakers.
- 75% – The ‘meat’ of the agenda should focus on delivering messages and ideas – through group and individual activities, discussion and debate, and networking.
- 15% – The final or closing section of the agenda should include both a concise re-cap of the key messages and a connection to personal accountability. This fart of the agenda is arguably the most important because it’s what attendees remember most clearly after the event.
Have a contingency plan. As thorough as you’ll be with planning, something will go wrong. You might not be able to control the crisis, but you can control your response. Think through all of the potential problems, then brainstorm the most suitable and fluid response. Involve others early so when the issue arises, you spend your time ‘doing’ – not ‘thinking.’
Please feel free to add any comments or suggestions about Implementation below.