3 Great Apps For Event Planners

Are you ever overwhelmed by the number of apps available to us? I am!  Just browsing through the app store can make my blood pressure rise a few points.  So here’s a short list of just three apps that could make your life as an event planner a little bit easier.

Mobile applications concept

1)  Evernote.  www.evernote.com  Capture and manage files, pictures, webpages, audio notes and more using this intuitive app.  Two features I love are the ability to search for files by keyword and the fact that all your information is synced across each of your devices.  This is a great app for event planners who are collecting and managing lots of information from a variety of sources.  This has replaced disorganized piles of clipped articles, notes I scribble on napkins and lose and webpages I save to my “history” and then completely forget.

2)  Camcard. www.camcard.com  Take a photo of a business card, organize cards into groups, add photos and personal notes.  Camcard is a simple app that lets you quickly store the information on all the business cards you receive.  Have you ever collected a batch of business cards and then sent them through the wash?  Maybe I have, maybe I haven’t.

3)  Sign Now. www.signnow.com  Open a document from an email, tap the line where you’d like your signature to appear and see your saved signature added to the document.  Now you can email the document back to the correct recipient.  No more printing, scanning, signing, and faxing back.  This app has saved me lots of time! Other features of this app that I appreciate are the ability to scale my entries (so that dates and signatures match in size to surrounding text) and I can even take a photo of a document with my phone and then sign and email it.  Love it!

What app do you consider a must for event planners?

4 Blogs That Help With “CANI”

The president of my company has a saying “CANI”, which stands for Constant And Never ending Improvement.

I try everyday to continue to improve myself from a personal development standpoint.  Each morning I get up and read several blogs that help jumpstart my day mentally.  My boss can help with my personal development, but only so much because his daily bandwidth is limited.

I have found 4 blogs in particular that help me the most, and I thought I would share them with you today.

  1. MichaelHyatt.com.  For anyone interested in intentional leadership, personal development or platform building, this is a must!  Michael is the former chairman of the board and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, as well as a New York Time’s best selling author.  His posts vary from coaching topics to great ways to do productivity tasks on a computer.  Michael’s podcast has also become a must listen for me.
  2. SethGodin.TypePad.com.  Seth Godin is a marketing guru.  His books are manuals for marketing and are must reads for everyone.  Seth’s blog is a daily thinker for me.  Check out a podcast called “Seth Godin’s Startup School” for more fantastic content.
  3. SkipPrichard.com.  Skip might be new to some of you.  He’s a CEO and business leader, and writes on the topic of leadership insights.  Skip has also introduced his readers to several great leadership books.  He’s a constant reader.
  4. ChrisBrogan.com.  I like to read material that is also inspiring.  Chris does that as the CEO of Human Business Way.  He challenges his readers to “Tell bigger stories.  Use the impact equation. Love the grind.  Brave the now.  Service craftsmanship.”  Chris writes on his blog about twice a week, publishes a newsletter on Sunday’s and does an almost daily podcast as well.

These are just a few of the ways that I continue to grow my personal development.  I read several books and listen to other podcasts as well.

I hope these will challenge you to continue to work on your own personal development.  To be a better leader, you have to do the work!

Are there any blogs that you read daily?  What has worked best for you and your personal development?

Smart Devices At Events

Our society is more connected than ever before.  I try my hardest but no matter what, I feel like I’m always checking my iDevice for various updates.

Want proof of that first statement?

Have you seen the recent picture of the people at the Vatican in 2005 awaiting word on the new Pope versus the crowd in 2013 awaiting word on the even newer Pope?

If you haven’t here’s the picture.

split-vatican-0314There could be (and I wouldn’t doubt it) a small chance some Photoshop is going on here, but this post is not about that.

As an event planner, I bet you’ve seen the same thing happen at your events.  More people are using their smartphones or tablets to take pictures, record video, etc.

What have you done to embrace this change at your events? 

I hope you’re encouraging people to use their portable devices in whatever way they desire.  Some attendees may be taking pictures and posting to social media networks while others may be taking notes or following along with their Bible app.

What are you doing to encourage this change at your events?

In previous blogs posts, we’ve discussed the addition of hashtags on slides, programs and other marketing materials.  That’s always a great way to encourage event attendees to post to their social media networks.

A local school system has instituted a “bring your own tech to school” policy that has allowed students to bring their own portable devices to schools.  Using a similar approach by encouraging the event or retreat attendees to bring their own devices, is another idea you could implement.

What have you done to incorporate devices into your events?

Have smart devices become a distraction at your events?  How have you incorporated them into your program.  Please take a moment to share your experiences in the comment sections.

Answer These 5 Questions, Improve Your Next Event

If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” — Zig Ziglar.

question marks

Wouldn’t it be terrible to spend loads of time, money and late night brainstorming to plan an incredible event that accomplishes very little?

Yes!  It would be!  You want your event to accomplish something very specific, and the more detailed you can be in outlining your goals before the planning stages, the better chance you have of hitting your event objectives.  Use these five questions to set up a “visible target” for yourself and your team.  Ready?

  1. Why should people give their valuable time and money to attend your event?
  2. What are you offering that is unique?
  3. Who is your target audience?
  4. What is your company’s number one goal for this event?
  5. Can you describe your event atmosphere with three words?

After you have spent time answering these questions, print out a fresh copy for yourself and take a walk.  Visit your planning team, a recent event attendee and the president of the company you represent.  Get their answers to these questions. You may be surprised.  You need to start this important conversation because it goes to the very marrow of your event planning.

This list should be used for each event you plan and should be filled out with as many specifics as possible.  For example, your target audience should not be listed as “women”, but instead, “18-25 year old women in Western North Carolina”.  This description will help you make all sorts of decisions about venue, advertising and even musicians!

Use these five questions to avoid “aiming at nothing” during your next event. Be specific in your answers, set up a target, point it out to your team, and “hit it” with intent and gusto!

4 Ways To Introduce New Technology At Your Event

The CFO at my office has recently made the change to a MacBook Pro.  She’s been using a Windows machines for many years, and being in her 60’s, the transition has been easier than I expected.

Was this move necessary?  Probably not, but everybody else in the office is using a Mac, which made this a natural transition.

I tell you this story to not only brag on her, but to also encourage you.  If she can make this transition to new technologies, so can your event attendees.

It’s hard to try something new in technology like an app or a social network not knowing what kind of results you might get.  But let’s face it, the majority of our culture is app savvy and social media literate.

In a previous post, we discussed “does your event need an app?[EDITOR: Link to http://ministryservingministry.com/2012/12/17/does-your-event-need-an-app/#.UTa5W6XA6Vg] I think the answer is yes, but I also think there is a bit of education as far as your attendees are concerned.  There may also be some pulling of your audience in to the 2000’s.  Tough?  Yes.  Necessary?  You betcha!

How do you go about this education?

  1. Introduce the new technology early in advertising.  Make it front and center of your marketing campaign.  Keep reminding your attendees of it.
  2. Introduce the new technology early in your event.  Right at the start of your event, mention the new tech.  Keep mentioning often.
  3. Push special content that is only available in the new technology.  If the new tech is an app, put videos in there.  If it’s a social media component, push links to secret pages on your website or secret meetings.
  4. Keep pushing new technology at your event.  Pretty soon you’ll be so forward thinking, your attendees will start to expect the new technology.

Have you used new technologies at your events?  How have you introduced these?  Were your attendees receptive?

3 Event Must Haves

I attend a lot of events, and work with event planners for our acts.  This gives me a unique opportunity to observe different events, and to also critique these events as well.

I’ve started a mental list of “must-haves” for events to be successful, and I wanted to share three of them with you today.

  1. Wifi. Having wifi is a must.  But not just having wifi, but being able to handle all your attendees as well.  This was something I wasn’t aware of, but did you know wifi routers can be limited to the number of people who can get on the Internet?  This setting can be changed to unlimited but by default is capped.  When department stores like Target and JCP are offering free wifi, your event must have it!
  2. Sound And Lighting.  Us Artist Managers are always concerned about the sound and lights at events.  Mainly because we want our artists to be seen in the best light, so to speak.  Making sure you have the right sound and lights for your event is important.
  3. Social Media Use.  Being a social media guy, I love see hashtags in use.  When I see that, I want to Tweet or Facebook about what I’m seeing at the event.  I saw one the other day that was perfect: the hashtag was on the bottom right hand corner of the screen showing video.  Very similar to how TV networks are using hashtags.  Including a Twitter feed during breaks is another way to incorporate Social Media.

I didn’t mention speakers or artists because those, in my opinion, are a given.  I’m probably not at your event unless I’m attracted to the right speakers.

These are three of my event “must-haves”.  I’m curious what would be on your list.  And also, what have your attendees put on their “must-have” lists?

7 Killer Resources for Event Planners

Books, conferences, articles, and eBooks are waiting to help you better market, organize, and run your next event.  It’s easy to let the press of necessary, urgent tasks keep you from digging into the excellent resources waiting for you.  What if you dedicated just 30 minutes each week to “continuing education” on event hosting?  Here are 7 great resources to get you started.

Modern library

  1. Event Planners Association (EPA)  Membership in this national trade association includes benefits like: networking opportunities, education, insurance, legal services, and internet marketing. (www.eventplannersassociation.com)
  2. A Christian speaker agency: Several agencies offer a collection of speakers and worship leaders at your fingertips.  You can search by topic or event type and agency professionals can help you navigate scheduling, booking and honorariums. (www.christian-speaker.org)
  3. Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide To Successful Meetings, Corporate Events, Fundraising Galas, Conferences, Conventions, Incentives and Other Special Events by Judy Allen. From guest demographics to room requirements this book is a great resources for beginning to pro event planners.
  4. The Event Manager Blog, www.ministryservingministry.com is the go-to source for Christian ministry event planning, but the Event Manager Blog also has excellent content, including a few free eBooks on event planning.  Visit them at: www.eventmanagerblog.com.
  5. The Better Business Bureau.  When dealing with a new vendor, call the Better Business Bureau before checking the references the vendor provided.  Vendors don’t usually hand out phone numbers of people who have lodged complaints.  www.bbb.org
  6. The Event Marketing Handbook: Beyond Logistics and Planning by Allison Saget.  This resource is focused on sales, covering topics like brand recognition, lead generation and thought leadership.
  7. The Special Event Conference- a conference for event planners. This is a conference presented by Special Event Magazine.  From unique catering ideas to event planning tech, you’ll be flooded with industry specific resources.   www.thespecialeventshow.com

Do you have an event planning resource that has helped, encouraged and informed you?  Please share!

4 Easy Tips For Planning A "Green" Event

Few people would argue that being good stewards of the environment is a bad idea, however,  many people assume that “going green” is complicated and costly. Here are a few simple steps you can take to make your next event better for the environment.

Green Meetings

1)  Cut the trip short.  Chose a location for your event that is close to the participants.  Fuel is costly to us and to the environment!  If some of your attendees are far away – consider having a satellite site where you broadcast the main sessions and re-create breakout groups.

2)  Turn up the air, turn down the heat.  Turning the heat down just one degree on the thermostat can save 1-3% of your heating bill and trim energy usage.  When we’re talking about large buildings and auditoriums that seat hundreds or thousands, that’s a big difference!

3)  Cut paper usage.  Send an email instead of a letter. Project announcements instead of handing them out.  If you need to hand something out – be sure to print on both sides.

4)  Use washable plates, cups and utensils whenever possible. If you must use throw-away paper products, check into biodegradable options or items that have been made out of recycled material. You can find disposable dinnerware made of everything from sugarcane to potato products and enjoy knowing that it won’t end up sitting in a landfill for years after it’s thrown away.

Once you’ve taken steps to make your event greener – be sure to let your attendees know!  Taking steps to be a better steward of our environment and resources is something to be proud of.  Announce your foray into the world of environmental care with something as simple as graphic on your brochure, an announcement during your event, or something more complex like a press release.  We’d love to know what steps you take to make your next event greener.

5 Thoughts On The Growth Of Meeting Planners

A recent article on salary.com, listed Meeting/Event Planner as one of the top 5 fastest growing jobs in America. Matter of fact, it’s number 4 on the list behind Physical Therapy Assistant, Biomedical Engineer and Home Care Aide.

That got me thinking “what is behind this growth?” Here are 5 aspects that that I thought might be behind people becoming Meeting/Event Planners.

  1. Social aspect. If you’re like me, you’re very outgoing. This leads you to want to host events, get to know others and connect them to things you think they might enjoy.
  2. Ministry aspect. Since you’re reading this blog and its focus is on Christian events, the ministry aspect is probably a huge factor in your decision to be a meeting/event planner. God has gifted you with the talent to be an organizer, and you’re using that gift to be a meeting/event planner. As Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians this is your part of being the body of Christ.
  3. Servant aspect. This goes hand and hand with ministry, but I believe it involves a higher calling.  These are the types of people that want to be behind the scenes.  They don’t care if their name is called or not, they’ll be there to do the planning.
  4. Popular aspect. We seen a lot of growth in Pinterest. Watching these boards has given you several ideas to plan a meeting or event, and you’ve decided to give planning a try.
  5. Startup aspects. The startup costs to being a meeting/event planner are small. If you got a good laptop and smartphone, you’re ready to go. Some businesses require you to have a store front (rent) or inventory (cash flow). Those might be areas you get into down the road, but there not necessary to get your business up and running. The costs to start websites has decreased as well with the emergence of WordPress and similar platforms.

What do you think has lead to this growth?