Hot chicken, brimming wine glasses, fully-inflated balloons and soft music can help make sure your guests are content, as any event planner knows. BUT THERE IS ONE THING MOST SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS FORGET WHEN PLANNING AN EVENT.
Events cover everything from 5000 person conferences to 50 person trade shows to 5 person breakfast briefings. And a lot has been written about event planning– how to select and book the right venue, how to hire entertainment, send invitations at the right time etc.
But whether you’re planning a full-scale conference or a drinks evening, how many of you think about how you want your guests to feel at your event?
Things ALWAYS go wrong when organising an event
I have been event planning for many years and it’s a realisation that came to me late.
I used to think the secret to a great event was to make sure it looked liked everything ran smoothly, even if it didn’t and as most event organisers know, something ALWAYS goes wrong.
All your presenters want to make changes to their slides at the eleventh hour. Or one of your speakers has been rehearsing his/ her speech all night and now knows it so well, he/ she speeds through it in 10 minutes instead of giving it the full amount of time it requires for people to hear and digest it.
The day before your event, the photographer gets news about death in the family. Of course, you are sympathetic, it’s awful, but inside you are screaming ‘who is going to take photos now?!!’
Driving to the event, another car ploughs into you, the car you’re in is written off and you are in shock but all you can think is that you are going to be late getting to the venue to sort the room decorations.
All these things happened to me. And I sorted them out and made each event look seamless.
How do you want your event guests to feel?
However, we’re so often focussed on the organisation of an event and sorting out problems that arise that we forget the basics: how you want your guests to feel.
Do you want them to be relaxed, celebratory, inspired, motivated, feel special? I’d suggest spending some time during the planning phase of an event deciding on one or two feelings that you want your guest to experience.
Then use this feeling from the very beginning right through to the follow up after an event.
Use it to inform lighting and music concepts and decide event key messages.
Treat your guests like that feeling. And I mean treat ALL your guests like this whether they are international VIPs, journalists or employees who work in your post room.
Personalise according to this feeling. This doesn’t just mean shoving someone’s name on the top of an email invite. It means finding out how each of your guests wants to feel before an event – and then wrapping them in that experience. It means greeting them by name and having a chat about something that relays that feeling. It means adding personal touches to their tables that are physical symbols of that feeling.
Connect your guests with people who exhibit this feeling. People love people and your event will be remembered in a glowing haze of goodness if you connect people who do this.
During any crisis that arises throughout the event, remind yourself of this feeling and deal with any issues in a way that achieves and maintains that feeling.
Finally, end the way you started – full of enthusiasm for the feeling you’ve achieved.
A couple of days after your event, breathe, debrief and ask yourself if you achieved that feeling during the event. Seek feedback from your guests after the event and, more importantly, make sure you apply it next time!
And if you don’t want to do any of this for yourself, hire a professional to do it for you!