After being picked to give advice on what makes a good event and upon reading other people’s accounts I decided to give a full account of what really makes a good event. Here is the great article of 22 pieces of advice from Tech event organisers produced by Founders Grid.
Before you even start with your event, you need to begin by defining its goals. Is it to interact with a new audience, become more of a prominent figure/entity in a specific field or perhaps you’re fundraising and raising awareness for a cause. Creating goals means that after your event you can evaluate how well you accomplished what you set out to achieve.
Before jumping in to the logistics, you should define your audience: Who would attend and why would they attend. Make this specific and create an example audience profile. It helps to phrase your event (not formally) as a question. For example Monkfeet’s event (that I organise) answers: what can start-ups founders do to attract and gain investment from VC’s? (Check out Moneyball, Investors on Stage).
It helps to be specific and put yourself in the shoes of the audience. If you were to ask yourself that question what would you expect to gain from attending the event? I believe there is still a big mismatch in expectations from what event organisers are portraying their event is about and what attendees can actually get out of attending. What matters is the quality of your audience and trying to get as many people to come in an non-concentrated manner can severely damage that. An event organiser’s biggest fear is that people don’t turn up, but equally, filling up a room of unhappy and disappointed people does not make a good event. When people attend your event they want to network with people with similar interests/businesses/ideas, and this is how you will create value. For example, with Moneyball, Investors on Stage, attendees will be start ups (mostly pre-funding stage) looking for investment in London from VC’s.
Remember, events are difficult and much more than getting people together. The events industry is worth over £39 billion in the UK and holding an event involves a whole process of marketing, sponsorship, PR, logistics, management etc.
Listen to your (potential) attendees. Would they benefit more from a panel discussion, perhaps a roundtable? The format of an event is very important and can severely affect the quality of the event too. Tweet to your audience/create a poll/send a survey monkey and get feedback. The best events are those where you give the audience exactly what they want, but also remember you can’t match everyone’s expectations all at once. Pick the top 3 elements that you think will make your event work. Less is more!
Here are some pointers/ideas to help get your event off the ground:
A few other tips include remembering to get volunteers/helpers to aid on the evening, there’s plenty of people who would do this for free simply for the experience or to get immersed into a particular network/meet and listen to the speaker. A good ratio is 1 volunteer per 20-30 attendees and a few extras for registration and other tasks.
Keep your events consistent, that means if you order beer for one event, stick with beer for the next event: attendees like to know what to expect. Remember, as an attendee it can be a daunting experience going to an event so make them feel welcome too!
Maximise the exposure of your event by creating a blog before and after. You might want to do a write up, interview attendees, interview the speaker. Try to encourage attendees and speakers to tweet and create a specific hashtag for your event!
Good luck with your event, if you have any additional suggestions add them below!