Two weeks ago Natalie Asprey Marketing Consultancy delivered ‘ Reframe Women in Tech’ a one day conference on behalf of our clients’ Tech Returners, it was a truly amazing day and since then I’ve received a lot of praise and comments about how slick the event was, the high level of organisation and a little disbelief that it was the first time my company had ever delivered something like this.
Full disclosure, this wasn’t my first conference or event, I’ve worked on extensive events programmes and large scale stuff BUT it was the first time I’d delivered the entire end to end of a conference from creating the brand, delegate attraction and management to managing speakers and sponsors, budget management and the logistics of the venue and suppliers including AV, video production, photography and childcare plus running and planning the ‘on the day show’ and more besides.
Which brings me to the purpose of this blog, the biggest question people have asked me was
‘how did I do it!?’ pulling all of the elements together to create a successful event which goes off without a hitch is not easy but there are plenty of things you can do to make it look like it was!
Start earlier than you think
A lot earlier. Even for a small event, I’d recommend no less than an eight week lead time in which to attract speakers, delegates and put in place everything you need to ensure your event is successful. Why so long? Because whilst your event is at the top of your priority list, it’s not at the top of everyone else’s, it will take time to get responses from people, for people to book on and for venues and suppliers to get back to you and get things organised. For large scale events, my view is it’s never too early to start! Reframe Women in Tech took place on Monday 28th October 2019, we started planning in March 2019 and planning for the 2020 event is already underway, the more elements there are to keep hold of, the earlier you should start getting the things in place which mean the event can actually happen.
Deliver for your sponsors
Small events, large events or somewhere in between if someone is handing over cash for exposure in some way at your event then, you must deliver. I’ve been on the other side of this in marketing roles, paying for sponsorship where there was a lack of clarity around what the sponsorship really provided or where the elements of the package simply weren’t delivered and it’s hugely frustrating. For every sponsor, at every event put an agreement in place which clearly defines what they’re paying for and what you expect in return and stick to it! - events are expensive and sponsors can quite often be the difference between an event being an idea or becoming reality so never underestimate how important that sponsor relationship can be.
Brief, Brief and Brief again
You can never brief too many times in my view. When you’re choosing suppliers to work with for your event don’t be afraid to give a detailed brief it allows them to create proposals and provide quotes which are more accurate (which in turn helps you manage your budget) and it also sets out what you want clearly from the beginning.
The same goes for speakers and sponsors, your team and anyone else involved with your event in some capacity, providing a detailed brief of things you need to happen to make the event a success is key to executing a successful event - and don’t be afraid to brief repeatedly, it might feel a little bossy but it’s a reality that people need reminding of the details, when to arrive, where to go, what time things are happening, if you don’t ensure these details are in place things can easily go wrong.
Be obsessed with the budget
Even the smallest events will have some cost implication whether that’s time/resource or a few refreshments but when you go big, the budget goes big too and you’ll need to have a firm hold of it from the start, I could write another entire blog on budget management but some really important bits, to begin with, put in your venue cost including refreshments - you can’t run your event without a venue so this cost is an important one! put in any other costs you’ll have to cover and when you have your total you’ll be able to work out how to price tickets if you’re selling them, what contribution your own business might be making to the event financially or how much sponsorship you need to attract. Revisit and update the budget regularly, I’d recommend daily on a large scale event and triple check everything! once you get underway with the actual running of an event it can be incredibly easy to miss a line on the budget!
Don’t scrimp on the AV
Never, ever, ever. This is a golden rule if your delegates can’t hear the people on the stage or if your presentation fails or the ‘in house’ screens or speakers aren’t up to scratch everyone will notice, an AV company who understand events and what’s required to deliver a slick ‘show’ element are your best friends particularly when it comes to large scale events, for reframe Women in Tech there were multiple microphones, music requirements, 43 slides worth of presentations some including videos, 10 panellists and 4 keynote speakers. The smooth running of all of that simply wouldn’t have been possible without an AV Team, so my advice on this one is to never scrimp on the AV, never assume the ‘in house’ facilities will do and always use a team you can trust.
Have a backup plan
Why is this important? because sometimes things happen which are out of your control so it’s essential to have in mind how you might overcome these things if they do occur. I had a few back-up options for reframe WIT including if speakers didn’t turn up! And anyone who attended will know that situation did actually become reality for the afternoon session and so, the back-up plan played its part! I’d intentionally chosen those rooms on the basis there was additional space and delegates simply joined the other two sessions - to be fair it did get a bit cosy in there! but it’s a good example of a moment which could have been stressful had a little thought not already been given to the ' what if' moments.
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