7 Post Event Tips

I read a great article by Ashely Muntan, in the Rejuvenate Magazine this week titled “The Post-Event Syndrome”, you can read the full article here.  I have just finished several events at Ridgecrest Conference Center so I found the following items particularly helpful in getting back to the office and getting back to business as usual.  I hope you will find these helpful as you are getting back from your events too.

1. Anticipate re-entry. A roller coaster feeling is inevitable in the event industry and post-program blues can be avoided with proactive disciplines. Mentally prepare yourself for your return, prioritize your to-do list and do not force yourself to tackle all of it in one day. Pace yourself back into a normal routine.

2. Look to your friends and family to facilitate the transition back to daily life. Often family and friends are neglected when planner schedules get busy, and it is important to devote some time to them upon a large event’s completion.

3. Don’t forget: It’s OK to feel excited and pleased with an event’s success. Take the time to reward yourself for a job well done. You have worked long hours pre-event and on-site, and it’s important to give yourself some attention to stay healthy.  Indulge in a relaxing activity, whether that’s an afternoon at the spa or movie theater or going on a long bike ride.

4. Manage the re-entry. Pre-blocking your schedule prior to your departure and managing your time post-event will allow you to find balance and tackle the to-do list at a normal pace.

5. Look forward to going through re-entry again. Managing re-entry and accepting that it’s not easy to get back into a more normal, slower routine can be difficult, but with the right self-discipline, it can be done. Think of re-entry as a reward, not a burden, for your hard work and great event success.

6.  Clean out your email inbox.  Chances are you let emails pile up in the weeks leading up to the event, only responding to the most crucial and time-sensitive messages.

7.  Send thank-you notes.  Since we don’t do it alone, hand-written notes to everyone on your team are necessary and greatly appreciated.

What other tips do you have for getting back into the swing of things?

8 Quick Tips For Creating A Successful Event

Retreats and meetings matter.  Whether you are booking a staff retreat or your organization’s annual conference, remember these 8 quick tips to help you create a successful event:

  1. Pick a destination where your attendees WANT to go. While you would hope they want to attend because you’ve planned a great agenda, it doesn’t hurt to hold the meeting in a location where people want to go.
  2. Create a sense of anticipation. Help them see this is a retreat or conference they simply don’t want to miss.
  3. Enhance your evening gathering by creating a theme to provide a unique experience. Try to give them something they will remember when they get home.
  4. Build a little free time in the schedule. Hopefully you’ve chosen an interesting location so be sure to give them some time to enjoy the local area. It amazes me how some groups that come to Ridgecrest don’t allow time for their folks to enjoy all the areas of Asheville and Black Mountain have to offer.
  5. Use technology to your advantage. Look for ways to provide information and allow registration via technology. Many of your attendees are packing smart phones and want to use them. Let ’em!
  6. Don’t plan every meal. Give your attendees some private time and opportunity to check out the local dining scene. It will save you money too!
  7. Give attendees easy to read information. Be sure to tell them the who, what, where, when and how.
  8. Offer a variety of activities to better meet the varied interests of your attendees. Not everyone enjoys a screaming run down the zip line!

What about you? What are some tips that have worked for you? Please feel free to share them with our readers. Thanks!

Are You Insane?

Before answering, or shooting fiery arrows in my direction, let me explain why I’m asking this question. I recently read an article on LifeWay’s Women Reaching Women blog that got me thinking. (Those of you who know me, know how dangerous this can be!)

The article was entitled “The Spin for the Women’s Ministry Leader“, and it was aimed at getting women’s ministry leaders to stop and think about how they are doing ministry. To make her point, the author told of an experience she had in a Spin class where the handlebars on her bike became wobbly. As she tried to fix them, she found herself turning the adjustment knob in all directions, to no avail. As the handlebars were coming off in her hands she heard a voice say, “Turning the knob is not going to help anything. It is obviously broken”.

“Wow!” In the business world, I was taught that doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results, was a classic definition of insanity. Her point was that this is true in ministry as well. Because we’re out front as leaders, we’re often not willing to change direction, stop what’s not working, ask for help or utilize the talents and ideas of others.

So, when it comes to your events, are you insane? Do you have an event that is declining? Too often the tendency is to think if we just work harder and promote better, attendance will be up this year. That may be true, but several years of declining attendance could also mean the event is dying.

Events are a product and like all products, have a life cycle. Launch, ramp up, plateau, decline, end. The key is to know where you are in the life cycle of the event. If attendance for your event has been declining, here are several questions you need to be asking yourself and your planning team:

  • Is there still a need for this event?
  • Why are people not attending?
  • Has the program grown stale?
  • Am I still excited about this event, or just going through the motions?

Just because your event is in decline doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to go away. Business journals are full of case studies where companies have been successful in extending the life cycle of their key products.  However I’d be willing to wager that very few were successful just doing the same old, same old and expecting different results.

Thoughts?

Great Resources for Christian Meeting Planners III

When we started MinistryServingMinistry our desire was to partner with those whose job it is to plan Christian events, meetings and retreats by providing posts that are helping to make your job easier.   We also wanted to provide resources where you will find other articles and insight with this same goal in mind.  We are constantly adding to these resources and have decided to make it even easier for you to know what’s new, we will write a post with these new additions monthly.

Here is what we’ve added in March by category:

Budgeting/Cost Saving Ideas
8 Tips To Bullet-proof Your Meeting Planning Budget – Tips to help you plan out your meeting budget…

Marketing/Promotion
An Insider’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette – a brief set of ideas around social media etiquette…

Contracts
Checklist For Speaker and Entertainer Contracts – Ensure the following items have been…

Retreats/Meetings
Staying on Top of Tech –  survey unveiled five key tech trends for the year…

Working With Volunteers – realize that part of your job as a meeting planner is training…

Please turn on your cell phones – an announcement that more and more religious meeting planners will likely be making…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

Great Resources for Christian Meeting Planners II

When we started MinistryServingMinistry our desire was to partner with those whose job it is to plan Christian events, meetings and retreats by providing posts that are helping to make your job easier.   We also wanted to provide resources where you will find other articles and insight with this same goal in mind.  We are constantly adding to these resources and have decided to make it even easier for you to know what’s new, by posting these new additions each month.

Here is what we’ve added in February by category:

Budgeting/Cost Saving Ideas
Region Conference Budget – A well planned budget and financial control system sets up an operating framework that will guide all elements and details…

Checklist: 10 Ways to Save (But Not Kill the Experience!) – The mantra of meeting professionals in this challenging economy…

Site Selection
15 Steps to Selecting a Site for Your Off-Site Meeting – A meeting for five to 100 people takes just as much time and effort as planning for thousands…

Retreats/Meetings
The Fundamentals of Planning a Youth Meeting – What are the fundamentals for planning youth meetings? We asked…

Refresh Your Women’s Retreat Tips – Are your women’s retreats in a rut?  Step outside those routines and experience a fresh perspective…

Meeting Planners
Meeting Planner Survival Guide – Whether you’re a novice planner or a veteran, this compilation of must-read articles…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more that might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

Great Resources for Christian Meeting Planners

When we started MinistryServingMinistry our desire was to partner with those whose job it is to plan Christian events, meetings and retreats by providing posts that are helping to make your job easier.   We also wanted to provide resources where you will find other articles and insight with this same goal in mind.  We are constantly adding to these resources and have decided to make it even easier for you to know what’s new, we will write a post with these new additions monthly.

Here is what we’ve added in January by category:

Budgeting/Cost Saving Ideas
Use Meeting, Banquet Space to Help The Bottom Line – As we move into 2011, it seems there is reason to celebrate…

Marketing/Promotion
The ABC’s of Social Marketing Ethics & Etiquette – Find out about the importance of ethics and etiquette in Social Marketing…

Using Social Media to Promote Events – David Meerman Scott discusses how to use to use The New Rules of Marketing and PR to promote events.

Site Selection
15 Steps to Selecting a Site for Your Meeting – Often the success of a meeting will relate directly to where it’s held…

Contracts
Checklist For Speaker and Entertainer Contracts – Ensure the following items have been…

Hotel Terms To Know – When dealing with hotels, it helps to know the lingo…

Retreats/Meetings
Refresh Your Women’s Retreat Tips – Are your women’s retreats in a rut?  Step outside those routines and experience a fresh perspective…

Meeting Planners
10 Tips to Get Started Going Green – tips below can help you create a foundation for environmentally friendly meeting management…

ServiceU.com – Software to help you manage your events online…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

Don't Let Your Events Get Stuck In A Rut

Chris Adams recently posted an article entitled “RETHINK Women’s Special Events” (read here) on her WomenReachingWomen blog. Chris works in the women’s ministry area here at LifeWay and you may remember her from a podcast we posted last year on how to create a standout women’s event (listen here).

In her most recent post, Chris challenged women ministry leaders to RETHINK their annual events and decide if they needed to continue doing them, or try something else. After reading the post, I contacted Chris and asked her if she’d be willing to take that process a little deeper for our MinistryServingMinistry readers.

Below are her responses to our follow up questions. While her answers are specific to women’s ministry (her area of expertise), I believe the principles can apply to any meeting, event or retreat.

MSM:  Almost every event has its own traditions and people who say, “We’ve always done it this way”. While tradition can have tremendous value/equity, what advice would you have for planners who are striving to break free of repetition and reinvent new traditions?

Chris: Evaluate the last event. Look at what worked, what was effective, what wasn’t. Also listen to what attendees say, if there is a pattern to their comments, it will help direct future events. Did you see changed lives? If so, what elements led to that? Take a look at dates that you have ALWAYS done an event, are women still able and willing to attend those dates/times of days.

Having “dreamers” serve on your women’s team and especially on event teams will help keep from becoming stagnant and doing the same ole, same ole just because it’s always been done that way. Evaluate who you are not reaching and analyze what it might take to tap into those pockets of women not involved.

Include women of different generations, and especially young women, to begin to develop new traditions while still using those former ones that are still effective. Sometimes you may need to move slowly, changing a little at a time, to be sensitive to women who have been a part of the planning of events a long time.  Add only a few new things and then re-evaluate again to keep it fresh and relevant.

MSM: Just because something is working ok doesn’t mean it might not benefit from a closer look and evaluation. Sometimes you may even need to break something that’s not broken in order to make it better. What do you see as the downside risks for a planner who operates by the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” motto?

Chris: The down side is that you might not even ask the questions to discover the real results of an event. Perhaps you still have women attending in good numbers and no one really complains about the program elements. Everyone is happy doing the same things over and over, and not move out of their spiritual and relational box to experience deeper spiritual truths. It may take an innovative leader with a vision for “more” to move women out of their comfort zones and into those deeper walks with Christ. The purpose of any ministry event should include, in addition to fellowship and building relationships (and of course great food!), reaching the lost and helping believers grow in their spiritual walks. Is that happening in any way through your event? If not, the motto will truly be a hamper to helping women move one step closer to Christ in their journey.

MSM: Sometimes planners will add a new element to an event and the response the first year might be less than overwhelming. If that were to happen with one of your LifeWay Women’s events, how would decide whether or not to give it a “second chance”?

Chris: New things sometimes take a while to catch on. But if even a few women are changed because of that element, and they go back and tell someone else, the fire is lit! I remember the first time my former church offered the very first Beth Moore video Bible study. Many didn’t know her and not ever done an in-depth study. But when those women finished the study (and even as they were in the midst of it), they talked about it with others. The next time the study was offered, numbers grew and more women studied God’s Word together.

It may be that you just need to tweak that new element to make it even more effective next time. If you offer a ministry or missions project as a part of an event, the first time maybe only a few are involved. But for those few, and for the ones who received the ministry, it was so worth it. If it becomes a part of each event, it will be seen as “normal” and more may become involved.

Again, ask the women as you evaluate each event.  See what they say, keeping in mind, you will always have some who never like anything you do!  But watch for those “patterns” in the responses so you can get a picture of the effectiveness and lives that have been changed.

Think your event might be getting stuck in a rut? What can you do to get it back on track?

A Little Insight into Site Selection

At Ridgecrest Conference Center we host hundreds of events each year. In doing so, we get the pleasure of working with many excellent Christian meeting and retreat planners. Over the next several months, we will be posting a series of Q and A sessions where we ask some of these planners to share a little of their meeting expertise with us.

Cathy Payne is the International Director for the Church of God of Prophecy and we asked her to give us her top 3 list for each of 3 questions related to selecting a destination and site for her meetings. Here they are:

MSM – What are the top 3 reasons you select a particular destination?

  1. Location
  2. Price
  3. Service

MSM – What are the top 3 reasons you select a specific hotel/conference center at that destination?

  1. Self contained/all under 1 roof
  2. Close to shopping
  3. Availability of fellowship areas

MSM – What are the 3 most important details to you when negotiating a contract with the event venue?

  1. Free parking
  2. Free meeting space
  3. Free sleeping room upgrades for staff

What about you? How do your top 3 differ from Cathy’s? Please feel free to share by commenting below.

3 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Meeting or Conference

In a previous post (read here), I shared the results of a recent Forbes survey that showed business executives still overwhelmingly believe in the value of face-to-face meetings. I also shared my belief that the same reasons given by the executives surveyed also hold true for Christian meetings and retreats.

Rally to Ridgecrest

There is definitely value in the personal interaction of face-to-face meetings, but as meeting planners, you must be intentional in fostering and maximizing the personal interaction that occurs during your event. Here are 3 things you can do to help make sure this happens:

  • Provide meaningful takeaways for your attendees – Whether it be the general sessions or the breakouts offered, work with your presenters to improve the quality of their material. Give those attending something they can really sink their teeth into. Also make sure the sessions are relevant to those attending your event. It could be a great presentation, but if it doesn’t connect with the audience and their needs, it’s pretty much a waste of their time.
  • Provide more networking opportunities – This is a huge one for me personally. When I attend a conference I feel I get as much, or more, from the networking than I do from the scheduled sessions. Be intentional about this, not only during the conference, but also before and after. Social media makes this easier than ever before. Create an online community where attendees and speakers can interact before, during and after your conference.
  • Provide more value to your sponsors and exhibitors – Sometimes these folks are forgotten, or taken for granted, by meeting planners. We’re probably a little unique in that we experience meetings and conferences from all angles (event sponsor, exhibitor, event planner and event host site) so we’ve seen this done well and not so well. If your event has sponsors/exhibitors never forget that these folks are helping to pay the cost of your conference. Be very intentional about optimizing exhibitor/attendee time. As an exhibitor or sponsor, I do not have an unlimited budget for tradeshows and conferences. Thus I’m going to focus my limited dollars on those events where I get the best bang for my buck.

What about your events? What are you doing to maximize the value for your attendees?