It’s Monday morning. You open your laptop and your inbox is filled with urgent messages screaming in ALL CAPS. Your C-suite leadership team has decided to host its first ever summit for internal and external partners in eight weeks and you are producing it. It has to be flawless and raise the standard of any summit in the history of summits. Can you do it? Yes, you can.Take a deep cleansing breath and review these six tips and tricks to make the impossible possible.
1. Answer the Big Ws
WHY exactly are you having this event? Define the 3-5 objectives and make sure all content and creative elements tie back to them.
WHEN? Once you lock in the event date, you can work backwards to develop your detailed production schedule with deadlines.
WHERE is it? What city will work best for attendee accessibility? For availability of venues? For your budget?
WHO is on your invite list? How many? If it’s an external audience you’re after, the earlier the start on audience acquisition, the better. Getting an early start on marketing to your attendees is important. You want to build in enough time to put in price breaks, and if you don’t already have a big database, you’ll need more time to build awareness, and grow your list. If registration is not live yet, you can still capture leads on your website. The same goes If you’re securing sponsors. You’ll need time to sell sponsorships, and you’ll need to fit into sponsors budget planning cycles.
WHAT’s the budget? The most important factor in event planning, your budget must encompass venue, food and beverage, A/V, staging, speaker support, creative elements, décor, branding, video, entertainment, travel and housing, and a hefty reserve for miscellaneous costs.
Finally, WHAT’s your ROI? How will you measure success? Do you need to turn a profit from this event? If so, what’s your revenue formula? Do you need to get sponsors? Answers to these questions will direct all next steps.2. Build Your team
Once you have answered the Ws, you’re ready to build your team. Check out our article on all the roles you should be consider when building your team. If you’re outsourcing, check out our article on when to outsource vs manage internally. If you are engaging an outside production company, get them on board as soon as possible, especially if you need assistance in venue search.3. Book Your Venue
Booking your venue should be at the top of your To Do List because so many decisions flow from that one. Moreover, depending on the city, venues are often in high demand and are booked months and sometimes years in advance. Booking a year or two in advance is never too soon if you’re in a position to make that commitment. Your production company may be able to help with venue research, site surveys and contract negotiation.
4. Engage Your Production Company
Once you have selected the venue, set up regular meetings with your production company. They will need to review your venue contract, floor plans, set up technical site visits and identify any technical challenges. This will impact what you can do creatively in your space and what part of your budget should be allotted for production and creative. Your production company will work with you to ensure that you’re on track time and budget-wise and will recommend technical and creative solutions to maximize dollars and impact.5. Build Your Production Schedule
Working backwards from the event date, collaborate with your production company to develop a production schedule with deadlines for approvals and deliverables. Some deadlines may shift along the way, but get the major deliverables in place at the outset.
Many factors will affect your timeline: designing and building custom scenic, shooting original video, engaging and prepping guest keynote speakers, developing a pre-event campaign or creating bespoke sponsor activations, to cite a few examples, will extend your timeline.6. Jump into Creative Development
Share the WHY of your event – objectives and key messages – with your creative partner and determine what you want your attendees to THINK, FEEL and DO as they walk out the door. Your creative team will think about how to connect the dots for your attendees. From there, they can create an immersive multimedia experience that will move your audience’s hearts and minds with video, special effects, live performances, digital media and dynamic graphics. From pre-meeting to on-site and post-meeting communications, you want your event to tell a story that your attendees won’t get anywhere else.
But wait, there’s more
It’s the evening after your event. It was an unqualified hit and you’re getting rave reviews from the attendees and senior leadership. Take a moment, raise a glass and celebrate with your team. Tomorrow it’s time to begin assessing what went well, and what could be improved. Because guess what? You did so well, they’ve asked you to do it all over again next year.