Creating the perfect corporate event

Advice to get as close to perfection as you can.

Creating the Perfect Event

Ok, so the title is a lie. Obviously there is no such thing as the perfect event, with so many variables (peoples perception being the biggest variable there is) and choices, it can be hard to nail that ‘perfect’ event experience but this article should at least give you some pretty sound advice to get as close to perfection as you can.

You yourself will have attended your share of events and seen the mistakes, the bored audiences and the forgotten messages. Try to think about events that you personally have enjoyed, what was it about them that inspired you? Hopefully at some point you will have been lucky enough to attend an event that has exposed you to the smiles, the connections, the high approval scores and the brilliant and creative ideas that truly drive a winning event.

The obvious place to start is with your audience. Who are they, what do they want, what are they thinking, what do you want them saying when they go home? All sounds obvious doesn’t it? You’d be surprised at how many people get this wrong though. Remembering to put yourself in the shoes of your audience is paramount. Are they adventurous? Would they prefer to be white water rafting or enjoying a nice lunch? What age are they? What do they expect? People like to be informed, they want to grow, they like to be entertained, inspired and educated. Your event must fulfil these objectives. Success at your event is not a happy executive and a bored, uninspired attendees; it’s a happy executive and an energized, motivated and inspired audience.

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Creating an objective checklist will enable you to ensure your event has the best possible outcome and is worth the time and money you have spent creating it. Whether it’s a social gathering or a professional presentation, maintaining a clear idea of what you want to achieve is integral to success. Do you want the audience to leave entertained and informed? Do you want them to feel included and involved? Do you want them to grow their useable knowledge and skills or simply just have an enjoyable experience that brings the team closer as a whole? No matter what you want to achieve always keeping your goals in mind will help you to succeed in the long run.

Once you have established your objectives the next step is to carefully select your venue. Choosing the right location for your event should be at the heart of your plans, a mistake here can leave the audience feeling underwhelmed and even possibly under appreciated. Have you selected a location that fully represents your belief in your brand and your respect for the audience? The surroundings you choose will say a lot about this; is the event at a dilapidated and dingy old sports hall or a stunning country estate? The venue size and capacity must be just right, being too small will create overcrowding; whilst being too big will give a sense of emptiness and an under-attended, unsuccessful event.

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Most venues should have capacity numbers, aim to be just slightly under the capacity limit, but never over and never far under, and you should be alright. Don’t book last minute, always ensure you have planned well enough in advance to secure a location that is perfect for your requirements; when it comes to location making do will not do. Depending on what your event is, make sure the venue is fully equipped, has the required space and is conducive to your vision. Whether you are hosting a drinks reception, stand-up buffet, cabaret style dinner or team building event , ensure the venue has experience and plans in place to cater for your desired style, you can also ask the venue if they have a gallery of images from past events which are similar to yours to ensure you are making the right choice.

When choosing the location visiting the site is extremely important, this will give you first-hand experience of how your guests will be treated by the staff. Are they friendly and welcoming? Even though you are hiring the venue from outside, on the day, these people will be your brand ambassadors and so it is important to feel confident about the venue team’s ability to deal with your attendees needs both warmly and efficiently. Certainly what you choose to do on the day will have an effect on the location you choose, this could go without saying. Whether you are holding a business seminar, a team building experience or a corporate summer BBQ there are a great range of locations out there to cater for every taste.

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Ok, so far, so good; we know the audience, we know what we want to achieve and we’ve obtained that perfect location that is going to wow the attendees, be completely conducive to our requirements and has the experience and ability to provide what is needed on the day. Now we need to focus on something that can sometimes be easily overlooked; the food.

You have major budget pressure – everyone does! However, try NOT to skimp on the food! People truly care about the treats at coffee time and the food at lunch and will very quickly form some class-action whining when they feel mistreated. Nothing is more disappointing than feeling mentally energised and instead of being able to refuel and get ready for round two, being faced with stale sandwiches and a handful of soggy crisps. Make sure the food isn’t just good it has to be great. Great food and drink will stick in your guests’ minds. Whether it’s canapés, a sit down meal or a drinks reception, ensure you have something available for everyone’s tastes. Be sure to remember that not everyone will be drinking alcohol, so provide non-alcoholic alternatives, and also remember to offer vegetarian alternatives to meat dishes, as well as catering for those with food allergies if required.

So you’ve planned the event to the very last detail so now how do you get people to turn up? You heard that right, just because you’ve the created an event it doesn’t mean people are guaranteed to turn up this is not the classic movie ‘Field of Dreams’, just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. If an event is not obligatory you’re going to have to pique their interest. On average more people will actually turn up to an event with a ticket price, because they’ve paid for it and therefore take the event very seriously –and they don’t want to waste their money. If your event is an invitation-only free event, you’ll experience a drop out which could be as much as 50% so, you need to do something about this. There are things that certainly help attendance laid-on transport being one of them, whether it’s a bus, a train or a tricycle offering transport increases attendance exponentially and there a psychological reason for that. When you lay on transport people actually feel obliged to use it as you have, in their mind, gone out of your way to provide for them and enhance their personal experience. Don’t underestimate the power of making that effort. Other perks to this are that it’s hassle free and pre-scheduled which gives your guest a greater sense of importance and obviously something that appeals to everyone is the word free. A free event coupled with free transport just screams “You are important” in the attendees sub-conscious. Throw in a secret destination, the promise of a great day, all combine to make your event a ‘must attend occasion’.

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Obviously none of this works though if you neglect to actually tell anyone about your event in the first place. Social media is great for not only getting your event out there but also making sure the ‘cool kids’ attend, once you have them everyone will want to come too this is a simple fact that hasn’t changed since high school. Use of clever and exciting hashtags to promote your events will go a long way to garnering interest but social media isn’t just for before the event it’s also for after! Creating teasers for the event via an email campaign is guaranteed to get people wanting to know more they are a great simple and economical way of creating a guest list. You want to stir the imagination and intrigue the reader so creating an exciting subject header is important as well as making the invitations visually exciting.

If your event is something you would like to repeat, giving it the correct exposure to encourage attendance at the next one is as equally as important as the set up. Having a professional videographer/photographer (no Bob from HR won’t do) to record everything for posterity can be a great asset to future events as well as having ‘tweetable’ content to foster resentment in the non-attendees because they weren’t there!

It’s incredibly important to remember that just because the event is over it doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to do. The final stage when pulling off an event is quite simply to follow up, follow up and follow up!”

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The completion of an event is as important as its conception. It’s a time to gather feedback, evaluate what worked, measure your return on investment and create excitement for next year’s event. Another incredibly overlooked piece of the puzzle, following up after the event is unbelievably important. There’s certainly no time to bask in the relief that the event is over and it was a success, you now need to focus on the ROI and measurement. The whole completion of an event is a task list all in itself starting with thanking those who attended. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and people are more likely to attend another event if they have been made to feel that their attendance was noticed and appreciated by the organisers.

Feedback is incredibly critical if you ever want to launch another event and accumulating it at the event while it is still fresh in the mind of those whom attended is always a good idea whether it’s via digital methods in the form of a questionnaire or a good old fashioned pen and piece of paper style contribution. Another great way to find out how your event went is eavesdropping on social media. Having your own social media accounts so you can drop into conversations about your event and get to the heart of what your audience is really thinking is a great way to get feedback you otherwise may not have known about.

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Social media is also great for beginning to create a buzz for next year’s event (yes this should be something you start thinking about immediately, no time to rest on your laurels) keeping people engaged on social media will help you go a long way to creating next year’s audience and one of the best ways to do this is to share content from your successful event while it’s still relevant and fresh. Online we have an extraordinary opportunity to create event communities that continue to engage long after the event itself is over. This means that an event is never really over with; instead it is an effective tool and a springboard for the next one. Although sometimes overlooked what we do after an event is as equally important as the initial planning. Engagement, sharing, evaluation and feedback keep us connected with our audience and give us the information we need to improve for the future and keep happy guests coming back for more, which is exactly what you want and following on from all of these points it could even be safe to say that with strong planning skills, imagination, high levels of communication and research perhaps planning and hosting the perfect event isn’t as impossible as it seems after all.

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