3 Things to Avoid When Naming Your Event

The name of your conference won’t actually matter because people care about the content and activities, right? Wrong. The name of your event is just as important as the title of an article or blog or book.  This name is going to be repeated over and over. It’s going to be written on everything you print out, type out, or hang up. You’re going to be saying it, guests are going to be saying it, and if it’s not great, they’re also going to be complaining about it.

Since your attendees will be telling their friends, family, and coworkers about this event (and hopefully telling them all to attend), it needs to be a name that people can remember and understand. After all, the title is making the first impression of your event, isn’t it?

Here are 3 mistakes you mustn’t make when naming your event.

  1. DON’T make it too long. Most events I remember the names to have two or three words and, if they don’t, everyone shortens them to two or three words. (Don’t you do that with TV shows and, really, titles of everything?) No one wants to study the name of an event to remember it, so keep it short and simple.
  2. DON’T make it forgettable. Do you ever read a book or hear a song, but never remember what it’s called? You don’t want to have that happen to your event. Use catchy terms and relevant words that make sense with your event topic. Seriously, if you or your coworkers can’t remember it after hearing it twice, it’s probably no good.
  3. DON’T make it confusing. Remembering it is one thing, but understanding it is another. Do your guests have to read the title 3 times just to comprehend what the event is about? The title must consist of topical words that quickly explain what the event is going to be about. A long title with replaceable or unnecessary words that won’t even make sense to people in your niche? Don’t torture your guests before they even step foot into the door. Easy, common (in your niche) words in a catchy phrase are your safest bet.

Have any other “naming your event” tricks worked for you?

Top 10 Posts – 2nd Quarter 2012

I think it’s safe to say we’ve entered the dog days of summer and I’m already looking forward to fall. This means the 2nd quarter is behind us and it’s time to share our 10 most read posts over the past 3 months. Hopefully this will help you find a worthy post you might have missed in the past…

  1. 3 Steps To More Productive Brainstorming – Brainstorming with your planning team is a great way to ensure you provide an event your attendees will find engaging and worthwhile.  Here are 3 steps to take that will go a long way to making your next session more productive.
  2. What’s A Hollow Square – As in any industry, hotels and conference centers sometimes have a language all their own. Here’s a little help in translating…
  3. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat –  If you don’t also spend time on strategically promoting your retreat, you may end up with a great retreat that no one attends. With that in mind, here are 8 ideas for helping to promote your upcoming church retreat.
  4. Ridgecrest Recipe:  Rutland Chicken – Have you been looking for something new to do with chicken?  Enjoy and then let us know what you think!
  5. 5 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over – Everyone has gone home and you want to relax but here are a few things that still need to be done and will definitely help you in planning future meetings and/or retreats.
  6. Creating A Standout Womens Retreat – A podcast interview with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade, 2 of LifeWay’s long-time women’s leaders sharing what they’ve learned about planning women’s events.
  7. Meeting Planner Survival Kit – Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies. Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.
  8. 3 Tips To Creating An Unforgettable Event – Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience.
  9. 5 Tips For Programming Effective Youth Camps – Brian Mills serves as student pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church and is passionate about reaching young people for Christ. Here are his thoughts on how to program your youth camp for maximum spiritual impact.
  10. 7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit – Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time.

Which post have you found most helpful?

 

Are You Considering The 2 “Why’s” When Planning Your Event?

I hope you’ve been keeping up with our series on the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of planning an event. Today’s post, “Why”, is the 5th and final question in the series. Are you ready?

There are two giant questions in this post which may seem very similar, but are, in fact, quite different.

1.  Why are you having this meeting/retreat/event? Is it to feel closer to God?  Is it a staff retreat with 30 of your coworkers? Is it to learn a specific skill, trait, or idea? Is it an annual conference? Or is it because you were able to book a big-time speaker and are focusing the whole event around them?

Whatever the reason, you will need to consider it throughout the other four key elements of organizing this event. If you want to have a small event where everyone gets close to one another, you won’t want to invite everyone on the Internet and rent a giant lecture hall. If you’re focusing on one key subject like writing or painting?  You must make sure to advertise to people who are interested in the topic. Keep your central theme in mind throughout the whole planning process so you don’t lose focus on what’s really important.

2.  Why are your attendees coming to this event? To learn? To grow? They have to? Whatever the reasons are, it’s critical this issue be addressed throughout the planning process. Once you determine why you’re having the event, you need to think of why your potential attendees would sign up and actually show up. Make it worth their while. Whatever your theme may be, make sure your attendees will leave the conference with a greater knowledge about the topic. Making your attendees happy should be your number one goal, so keep that on your mind at all times!

In my opinion, I think you should know who is speaking, what the conference is about, and why you’re really having this event before you start figuring out where and when. That way, you know exactly how you want the event to be, which will help you find the perfect place to hold the conference. Oh, and remember to be a little bit flexible on everything, because something always happens differently than you originally planned.

I hope this series has been helpful to you and let us know if you’d like to see a series on any other topics, we’re here to serve.

4 Things You Should Be Doing During Your Event

We have spent a great deal of time on this blog talking about critical tasks such as budgeting, planning and marketing your event. Hopefully you have found those posts to be helpful! But, what do you do during your event?

Chances are you will spend weeks, if not months, planning your event. Once the big day arrives and your event begins, you can kick back and take it easy…right? WRONG! Your job as the event planner is to make sure everything runs smoothly as planned…or as close to the plan as possible. This is easier said than done, but here are 4 things you can do during your event to help make sure this happens:

  • Always carry a copy of the schedule – You and your team put a lot of work into the schedule. What speakers are presenting, what breakouts/activities you’re offering and when, which meals are at what times, etc. Every person at the event should have one of these schedules and, while it may not run exactly on time, it’s your job to ensure the whole show runs smoothly and as close to on time as possible.
  • Always have a backup plan – Everyone assumes that some speakers or activities will run longer than expected, but please don’t forget that some may fall short. I once saw a speaker get off stage with an hour left in his time slot. What did the event planner do? He had an impromptu Q&A panel that went on without a hitch. Having backups is important at events because, no matter how rigorously you plan, thing can still go awry.
  •  Continually and clearly express your main message – What is the main theme or message you want to get across during your meeting? Think about why you’re having the conference and what it is about, and use those clues to write up a statement about your main message. If it’s a simple one like, “I want everyone to learn team building strategies,” that should be easy to convey. But if you have a more specific message, pay attention to ensure that it’s clear and precise, and expressed just enough that it sticks in your attendees’ brains.
  • Constantly evaluate – To determine if your event was a success or not, you must first define what success means to you. It could mean that everyone had fun, everyone learned the main message, or simply that most people showed up and everyone stayed until the end. However, don’t just wait until after the event to evaluate how things went. Try to constantly evaluate during the event (attendees’ body language and actions, as well as talking with guests) to get a great overall view of your project in motion.

As a planner, what are some other things you focus on during your event?

5 Ways to Save Money When Planning Your Next Conference

When planning an event, what do you consider the most important aspects? Having fun? Learning? Growing? Okay, all true, but what’s another significant part? How about saving money and staying within your budget?

Chances are if it’s not you, then someone else in your organization sees saving money and hitting your event budget as pretty important. Therefore it’s something you should probably spend some time focusing on. To help, here are 5 things you can do to save a little cash:

  1. Plan early. Actually, plan earlier than you think you should. Not only is it usually easier to get better deals when you plan early, it’s also easier to get what you want, when you want. If you leave it all to the last minute, you run the very real risk that everything might already be booked and/or more expensive. Think ahead.
  2. Be flexible. If your dates and times are flexible, it will be much easier to save money. The venue you’re booking might be cheaper during the week than on the weekends, or if you check-in on a Sunday night, or if you book for four days instead of three, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel or conference center for their best deals throughout the year and inquire about their least expensive times of year when booking. If you’re wanting to hold your event during high demand times be prepared to pay top dollar. Flexibility to take a lower demand date will definitely help you to save money.
  3. Do your research. It is usually easier to save money if you explore multiple options instead of just booking the first one you find. Submit RFP’s (requests for proposals) to multiple hotels/conference centers, entertainment companies, catering companies, etc and then compare to see who has what you want at the price you’re looking to spend.
  4. Use connections. If you have a friend in the DJ business, see if he or she can hook you up with a deal, instead of hiring a stranger. This concept goes for anything from caterers to party planning companies to audio/visual equipment vendors to, again, venues. Friends, friends of friends, and old business associates are much more likely to charge you a fair rate, or even give you a discount. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  5. Focus on the budget. Really look at your budget at all times. Once you create your event’s expense budget, try everything possible not to spend money on something you did not budget for. This will, to no surprise, help you stay within your (probably tight) budget.

What other money saving tips have you found to be helpful? Let us know by commenting below!

Are You Considering The 3 “When’s” When Planning Your Event?

I hope you have been following our series on the Who, What, When, Where and Why’s of Event Planning.  If you missed the first two on the  Who and the What, I hope you’ll check out these links now.  But as we are continuing on, the “When” also has three important factors to consider when planning your upcoming event.

They are:

  • When will the weather be ideal? Depending on where you’re going, the when in this equation is important. If you plan on going hiking in the afternoon to take a breather in between two intense speakers, you might not want to plan a trip for the middle of summer in Arizona or the middle of winter in Colorado. If you want to go skiing, well, do exactly the opposite of what I just said. You can even ask the venue staff if it rains extensively in June or if the snow is packed hard enough in January to fit your needs.
  • When can you get discounts? Who doesn’t love a great deal? Does the center you plan on renting have specials at certain times of the year? If you book the venue a few months early, will they knock 15% off the total price? Or, have you rented there before and repeat customers get discounts or extra amenities? Look into this, and don’t be afraid to ask.
  • When are other (competing) conferences booked? This is a 2-parter. First, when you’re thinking of a date, I suggest you have a few in mind; the venue might already be booked for the weekend you really want, but if you have a few more choices, you will be more likely to reserve a week or weekend that fits your schedule. Secondly, you want to make sure that you’re not booking your conference at the same time as another conference in your industry. Adding the stress of competition to your already important planning schedule will not make anything easier. This is an easy way to lose many potential attendees, which is the last thing you’d want!

Can you think of any other “When’s” that I’m missing?

The 4 Rs of Meetings

In the meeting planning industry there are four Rs that apply to every aspect of your events from the pre-planning to the final outcomes.

  1. Relationships – Act on the relationships that are a part of your network.
  2. Relevancy –  Reassess the resources, energy and attention spent on the experience to measure their relevancy.
  3. Reflection – Take the time to engage in personal and organizational reflection.
  4. Readjustment – Ask yourself these questions to increase effectiveness:   1.  What have I learned about myself that I would be wise to carry forward?  2.  What have we learned about our work together that we would be wise to carry forward?

I believe these four principles are vital in our meeting planning efforts.

 

Are You Considering The 3 “What’s” When Planning Your Event?

Hopefully you read our last blog about planning a great event, entitled, “Are You Considering The 3 “Who’s” When Planning Your Event?” If you didn’t, I suggest you do that ASAP here.

Now, we’re going to focus on the 3 “what’s” of planning. They are:

  • What is the conference going to be about? Obviously, when you’re thinking of who is speaking and who you’re inviting, you’re simultaneously thinking about what the speakers will be talking about. Having some sort of continuity is important at an event, and having the exact idea in your mind at all times will help you stay on target. You won’t know how to advertise or, well, plan the whole event if you don’t know what it’s going to be about!
  • What kind of “vibe” do you want to create? Knowing the overall “feel” or “vibe” of the event will help things run smoothly. For example, if you’re having a serious event, then party balloons, juice boxes, and a cake with sprinkles might not be the best ideas, right? You want this event to be memorable, and you want the attendees to have fun and learn something, so plan accordingly!
  • What important aspects might I be forgetting? Is your event going to have lectures, speaker panels, group work, and/or workshops? Is half of the event outside, with team-building strategies and networking built into the schedule? Will the conference center provide food, or do you need to get the event catered? How many days and how many hours per day are you going to have meetings? Are there enough snacks? Is each presenter going to have a PowerPoint presentation and need a microphone? Is there going to be a dress code? Are you going to allow laptops in the conference room for note taking purposes? Seriously, are there enough snacks? This list may seem overwhelming, and none of these are actually “what” questions, but these are just a few of the vital questions you should ask yourself when you’re thinking, “What?”

Once you know exactly what the conference is about, who is speaking and attending (which we talked about last week), what topics will be covered, what kind of “vibe” you’re aiming for, and the “little” things like if you’re providing notebooks for attendees or not, you’ll be even closer to having a great event!

Can you think of other “what” questions I may be missing?

Are You Considering The 3 "Who's" When Planning Your Event?

Whether it’s your first time to plan an event, or you’ve been event planning for many years, there are 5 W’s that need to be well defined in order to put together a quality event. The 5 W’s to be defined are Who, What, Where, When and Why and it’s critical to address all of them during your planning process. Shortchanging even one can leave you with an event that is less than what it could have been. Over the next several weeks we are going to address each one of these W’s individually and hopefully provide you with a very helpful roadmap to use when planning any future event.

The first W we’ll cover is Who. When it comes to the Who, here are the 3 Who’s you need to consider when planning:

  • Who will be attending? Answering this question really sets the stage for everything else when it comes to planning an event. Many times it may seem like a no-brainer. After all, it’s a women’s retreat Byron. Who do you think’s going to attend? True enough, but don’t stop there. Give serious thought to exactly which women will be there. Single women, single mom’s, mom’s with young children, empty nesters…women from all these groups could be attending and they all have different needs. Going deeper on exactly who will be attending makes it easier to plan everything else.
  • Who will be speaking? Once you know who your audience will be, you can then focus on who will be speaking and/or teaching at your event. It could be multiple professional speakers teaching your attendees about a certain topic… maybe a youth retreat with a main speaker, worship band and a bunch of volunteers teaching the Bible studies…or anywhere in between. A key item to also consider when answering this “who” is cost. Selecting a “famous name” speaker could help boost attendance, but it can also drive up your cost and make it more difficult to not lose money on your event.
  • Who will be working/volunteering? The final “who” to consider is who will be working at the event? When it comes to event workers/volunteers, all I want to say is do not understaff! Much better to have too many workers or volunteers than realize you need four more hands the first day of the conference. Think about all the tasks that need to happen. Tasks such as taking up tickets, helping the speakers, coordinating food, passing out programs and maybe even be a liaison with the host facility. Save yourself a lot of stress during the event and make sure you have enough help.

Any other “who’s” you consider when planning your events?

3 Key Elements Of Planning Your Next Meeting

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple, easy to use, never fail template for planning your next meeting or conference? You know, something where all you had to do was plug in your dates and times and in return you get a meeting agenda guaranteed to be a smashing success!

Well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you…this type of meeting planning template just doesn’t exist. And if it did, I’m afraid it would be so expensive, very few of us could afford to use it!

Every meeting, or conference, is different and the people attending those events are different as well. This means you need to take this uniqueness into account when planning. To help you do this, here are 3 key elements you should consider when planning your next meeting:

  1. Purpose – Why is the person attending and what do they hope to get out of this meeting? Typically people will fall into one of two categories. The first are those who are looking for practical tips they can immediately apply on the job or in their life. The second category are those people who are seeking new information, ideas or trends. It could be both, so you may want to look to balance the practical application with also giving them an understanding of the bigger picture.
  2. Structure – How will the information be presented? Again, attendees typically fall into 2 different camps. Those who prefer a lot of specifics/details and those who prefer the ideas to be presented in a broad, general way. The first prefer a clear agenda and well defined objectives, while the latter are comfortable with a more free flow exchange of ideas. Again, your attendees will probably fall in both camps so be sure to consider how you can appeal to both when planning your sessions.
  3. Involvement – The third element to consider is how your participants will be involved in the meeting. Do your folks prefer to be actively, hands-on involved, or do they prefer to take in a lecture and then reflect on what they’ve just heard? The trend in adult learning is towards more participatory involvement, but you will need to keep in mind some folks will not be comfortable in that type of learning environment.

As we’ve pointed out, chances are good your next meeting will include a mix of learning styles and preferences so be sure to offer sessions that will appeal to both. The key is to know your audience and plan accordingly!

What about you? What planning tips have worked for your organization?