We’ve all been to conferences where the attendees sometimes have that– “I am prepared to be bored at this conference” look. That’s the last thing any of us want. And if attendees are not engaged, they definitely won’t be very interested in talking with your vendors either. Then no one is happy. So it was a breath of fresh air when I attended a conference recently and the moment I walked in I could feel the buzz of a fun, learning environment and really cool, creative people. I felt lucky to be there.
Setting the right tone is critical to the success of your event and it all comes down to YOU.
What’s the secret to getting it right? Here are my 8 tips on setting the right tone for your attendees and having a successful event:
1. Venue: So often event organizers are way too comfortable using the same place they did last year, because it worked and it’s easier. But you want to create excitement for your attendees each and every year. Instead of a boring ballroom, what about an event held inside an industrial warehouse or a somewhere else unexpected? This change can get people talking and tweeting and sharing before the event even started and sets the tone for creative ideas and excitement.
2. Marketing: Create a unified strategy for promotion, website and social media. These touch points set the tone before your event, preferably one year out. You don’t want formal and boring and beige. Make a focused effort to get people excited about attending long before the event happens. Continue marketing throughout the event and after it’s over.
3. Program/Content: Keep the program fresh. Don’t just keep doing the same format with the same people because you do it every year and it worked fine. Don’t change it up so much that repeat attendees get confused though.
4. Engagement: Beyond the program, create opportunities for attendees for increased engagement and networking. We’ve had great success by creating add-ons to our events, such as new workshops about a hot new topic or a fun happy hour. For example, we’ve provided a “Whiz Bang Techy Tool Time Hour” where attendees can have fun with the latest tech tools with a libation in hand.
5. Speakers: Has this ever happened to you? You spend all this time and energy getting a supposedly amazing speaker and then you hear the presentation fell flat. Want great sessions? Prepare your speakers.
6. Staging: When it comes to visuals and staging, whatever you do, don’t do the expected. The quickest way to lose people as the event begins is to do the predictable podium, blah, blah. Shake it up! We’ve hired a chorus, a marching band, even impersonators to make attendees sit up, (smile) and pay closer attention.
7. Music: Music is often an afterthought at events or not well-planned out. Many event organizers miss the opportunity to provide great music throughout the event. People standing in line at registration are far happier with upbeat music playing nearby, for example. Think of all the times during your event when your attendees can feel the beat.
8. Dress code: Believe it or not, this matters. If everyone is buttoned up in business attire, the event is going to feel like a day at the office–and you definitely don’t want that. You can create a far more relaxed atmosphere for learning just by loosening up the dress code.
The right tone is one where everyone is excited to be there, engaged, wanting to learn…….and wanting to come back again next year!
Editor’s note: If you want to learn more about organizing successful niche events and learning from top speakers and your peers, check out our all new Niche EventFest workshop at the Super Niche conference, March 27-19, 2017.
About the blogger: Carl Landau is Grand Poobah of Niche Media. He is a media/event guru, SF Giants fan and part-time blogger. His 15 minutes of fame took place in the mid-eighties when he launched his famous, “Buy an Ad, Get a Cat” ad campaign. He has long since patched things up with the SPCA.
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – is launching the all new, yet same AMAZING source of NEW REVENUE for your niche magazine brand! The Super Niche event March 27-29, 2017. Check it out!
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