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Marketing / Business marketing

How to run a one-day event that everyone enjoys (even you!)

Great speakers, decent coffee and an AV system that doesn't drive you crazy with feedback. Just how do you create a great one-day event for your business? Two experts weigh-in.

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You’ve taken the plunge and invested in a speaking event to spruik your brand.

But let’s not beat around the bush: hosting a one-day event is a big deal for a soloist.

They’re expensive, require extensive organisational powers and also ask a lot from your attendees:  specifically a big chunk of their precious time.

As Flying Solo forum member Rumi posted recently:  “I have been to a few “events” in my time, and the speakers would have been better just generating an excellent website and sending out a newsletter. Because the “stage” presentation ended up just being a person passing slides and reading them to the audience. With today’s busy schedules we don’t have time for 15-minute meetings that only take our time but give nothing to the audience.”

Amen to that.  

So what is the secret to hosting an enjoyable one-day event? And how do you manage everyone’s expectations (including your own) and end up feeling great about your business?

1. Decide to do it

Flying Solo founder, Robert Gerrish says one day events are a wonderful way for any business to really align with a purpose. He says they give a focus for the ‘tribe’ to congregate around…and front and centre is the ‘host’, the person who made all this happen.

But Robert also cautions:

“Events are not for the faint hearted. They take considerable planning and can be enormously stressful … particularly if you need strong ticket sales to cover your outlay. I would advise anyone to start small, to get a sense of what’s involved or partner with others in a similar space and do your research by attending lots of events and getting a sense of what works and what doesn’t.” 

2. Do your research

“Armed with a clear knowledge of the hot buttons of the ideal attendees (and all soloists need to know what their customers most need help with)  it should be possible to design a day where those hot buttons are addressed and solutions presented and discussed,” says Robert.

Start by asking your immediate network or community (a direct FB question is a clever way to do this quickly), what they do and don’t enjoy about attending events. 

Pay equal attention to what people tell you that they don’t enjoy and jot them down as “pet peeves that are best avoided”.

Here are four of Robert’s biggest conference bugbears:

  1. Events that are little more than a series of sales pitches from the stage. Often speakers receive no fees, but are allowed to blatantly spruik. Yuk.
  2. Events that are run shoddily, ie: Sessions not well run,  timings going awry, clearly no ‘review’ of presentations by the organiser.  One I attended recently was full of presentations with typos and formatting issues, making it annoying (for a pedant like me) to watch. While this was mistakes by the presenters, it didn’t reflect well on the organisers either
  3. I like access to decent coffee. Good breaks where conversations can happen (often the ‘gold’ in the day comes from discussion in breaks) and a venue that is pleasant to spend time in.

3. Pay attention to the details

With those elements lined up the next important thing is managing the look and feel of the event itself.  Jada Bennett Cross is the owner of She Blooms Wild, an event and styling business based in Sydney’s Inner West.

Jada is one of those rare creatures who can turn her expert hand to anything and do it well – and her beautiful floral arrangements are a hallmark of her ambient events. 

When it comes to giving your one-day event the best chance of success, Jada told Flying Solo there are two areas to really focus your attention:

4. Atmosphere really matters

Really consider the ambiance of the event  space – whether it’s pretty florals to soften the space for your event, or bold signage, branding and colour used for a more dynamic themed speakers event. This makes the space feel comfortable for guests ands reminds them what they are there for. It also drives the key messages of the event home. and expresses the event’s theme and purpose.

5.  Attention to detail on the tech and AV system

Jada says planning out the staging, AV system and layout of the room at your venue can make or break your event.

“Ensure the speakers can be seen and heard, with staging to raise them and a state-of-the-art AV system. There’s nothing more annoying than technical difficulties at an event for both the speaker and the attendee! And make sure that all your guests have cler view of the speakers, I recommend using cabaret-style seating,” she said.

Ready to get stuck into it?

We’d love to hear how your next event goes: [email protected]

 

Lucy Kippist

is an experienced Australian editor with experience in writing, podcasting radio and television, with previous senior editorial roles at News Corp news.com.au, Kidspot and Kinderling Kids Radio. In her current role as editor of Flying Solo, Australia's #1 website for solo business owners she is pursuing her passion for women in the small business space. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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