A Few Ideas On Using Evernote To Plan Your Event

I recently wrote about my new favorite app, Instagram [link to that post]. Today, I wanted to tell you about Evernote, an app that is great for productivity.

Evernote is a fantastic note taking app. But it’s really more than that. Evernote will lend itself to working great for planning your event. Let me share with you a few ways you can use this app.

First Step
To start out download the app in the App Store on your iOS device or Mac, Android Store or directly from Evernote’s website. There is a paid version and a free version, and I’ve been a user of the free version up until the last few months. So far I have seen no reason to pay for the premium version. However, there is note sharing capabilities in the premium version. If you have a team using Evernote, that could potentially be a feature you would enjoy.

One of my favorite features of this app, is that it syncs across all my devices and computers in the cloud. If I add something on my phone, it’s on my computer when I open Evernote and vice versa.

Let’s Get Started
Now that you got the app download, let’s get started. When you first open it up, you’ll notice the default notebook is your user name. We’ll talk about that later, but first start your first note and save it there. You’ll notice that Evernote will use your current location. That’s great because it will also save that information in the Note Info. You’ll also see a tab when you open Evernote called Places. In that tab, you’ll see the location that each note was created.

One feature that I like about Evernote is Tags. One way you can use that feature for your events is to always tag every note for your particular event with that event name.  For instance, maybe you have a speakers note. If it’s tagged your event name, you’ll be able to search for the speakers note for your event in the tags tab. I use this all the time when searching for notes tagged a particular way.

I mentioned Notebooks earlier. Another idea is to create a Notebook (and you’ll see that tab when you open Evernote) for your event, and file each note pertaining to your event in that notebook.

I believe incorporating Evernote into your workflow for event planning will make it your go to app. How are you using Evernote to plan your event?

Using Instagram For Your Event

My new favorite app is Instagram.  This app takes your pictures, lets you alter with a cool filter and post to Twitter and/or Facebook.  Matter of fact, it’s become my go to app before Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram was purchased by Facebook a few months ago, and has seen an influx of new users.  I’ve seen my follower count go up, and some of these followers are not on Facebook or Twitter.

I’m big on having a social media strategy for your events.  Not just leading up to the event and during, but it’s also important to look at how you use social media after your event.

Let’s see how Instagram will work for your event.

Starting Out
Signing up is easy.  One thing to note is Instagram is only available as an app in the App Store or Android Store.  Once you’ve downloaded to your device, create your own account (suggested) or sign in with your Facebook credentials.

Once you’ve signed in, you can follow users who follow your Twitter and Facebook accounts.  I would do this, as well as post your Instagram images to your events website.

The first step is to start posting pictures from past events.  This will help you build excitement and anticipation of your next event.  Maybe do this about twice a week.

During Your Event
Post away.  I would post pictures of speakers, people at your event, signs.  You can get as creative as you want with this app.  Posting these pictures to Twitter and Facebook is a great idea as well.  However, posting some “exclusive” pictures is another great idea.

In another post [http://ministryservingministry.com/2012/10/15/3-reasons-you-should-use-hashtags-at-your-events/], I looked at creating a hashtag for your event.  That hashtag can be used for Instagram as well.  It’s another great way of creating excitement around your event.

After Your Event
Don’t let up on posting the pictures from your event.  Using the strategy from your pre-event, post twice a week.  Remember to keep that hashtag going.

Instagram is a great and fun addition to your social media strategy for your event.  Add that to your arsenal and be visual.

Choosing The Right Entertainment

Entertainment for an event/retreat is always a nice addition.  Choosing the right entertainment is key.

In my “day job” as an artist manager, I work with all kinds of entertainment.  I thought I would take a moment and give you a few things to look for when looking for entertainment.

  • Music
    Like any form of entertainment, picking music is a tough one.  Do you get a band?  A singer/songwriter?  Or someone singing to tracks?  These different variations also bring other issues.  For instance, production.  If you have a band, sound plays into the equation and budget.
    Another point to consider with music is style.  Do you want a party atmosphere?  Do you want a reflective time?
    Here’s a for instance: I work with a band, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra.  There are 12 guys on stage.  LOTS of production involved with them.  From a style standpoint, they can be a 60’s/70’s era band, they can do hymns, patriotic or Christmas or they can do a regular show.  Looking for a band that will give you different options is key.
  • Comedy
    If your event/retreat has been particularly stressful, having a comedienne is the perfect way to wrap up on a light note.
    Production is not much of an issue for a comedienne.  Most of the time, all they need is a mic and a stage.
    Style is something to consider when choosing the right comedienne.  You probably don’t want someone who would make you feel uncomfortable if your mom or dad were present.  And you probably don’t want someone that is political in nature.
  • Speakers
    Don’t get this confused with a comedienne.  A speaker is someone who is coming in to do a talk on a particular subject.
    Production is only a minor consideration for speakers.  Some will probably have PowerPoint presentations, or the like.  Having the right hookups for a computer are key.  Some speakers travel with these things, but never assume that.

Whether it’s a band, comedy or speaker, coordination ahead of time is important.  A quick phone call is all that is needed.  And don’t forget to loop in the sound engineer.

One last tip: there are several agencies out there that represent all of these different types of entertainment.  Working with them can help you get the right fit for your event or retreat.

Have You Searched For Your Event?

Confession time.  I’ve gone to a search engine and typed in my name.  That’s right, and I know I’m not alone in this.  You’ve done it too.  Why?   Because we’re all curious about what we might find.

Right after you’re done searching for your own name, take a moment and search for your event.  Let’s look at a couple of reasons why searching for your event is important.

Search Ranking

Knowing where your event ranks in search engine results is very important.  When I do a search, I don’t normally go past the first page of results.  Having your event higher on that list of results is important.

Don’t confuse this with people only searching for your event.  This applies to keywords as well.  For instance, if your event is geared on leadership, then your event needs to be high on that keyword search results.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a learned skill…and it changes every week (at least it seems like it does!) depending on the search engine.  My suggestion would be to work with your website designer on finding the right keywords to embed for your event.

Buying search results is also a possibility, and how much you spend would depend on your budget.

What Others Are Saying About Your Event?

Remember the old adage “any publicity, is good publicity”?  I don’t think that’s true in the viral world in which we live.  People are going to talk about your event.  It could be as easy as a Facebook post or Tweet, but that little piece of information, whether positive or negative, is going to stay on the Internet forever.

Doing a simple search on your event could help you answer objectives to your event as soon as the negative ones appear.

If a negative post appears, reach out to the person and try to correct it.  Getting this post removed probably won’t happen, but you could ask that person to amend their negative post if their issue was resolved.

The same is true for a positive post.  Tell that person “thank you” for the positive review.  Showing gratitude will only buy you future goodwill.

One other tip: some search engines allow you to setup emails for keywords.  I’ve done this in the past, and it works great.  These emails are free, and will help you see what others are saying about your event in a more timely fashion.

Have you searched for your event?  What results did you find?

It's Important To Evaluate Your Events

Words.  My mom always told me to choose my words carefully.  Replacing one word can change the context from a positive to a negative.  These word choices can also affect our attitude.  Michael Hyatt wrote a wonderful blog post (here) detailing this further.

These words can also affect our meetings.  When evaluating your events, I believe it’s important to put this into effect.  For instance, asking positive questions.  Here’s three positive questions that will help you guide your evaluation discussion:

  1. What did we do right?  My pastor detailed how our church starts each evaluation of an event with this question in this blog post (here).  This is a great question to start the discussion.  The natural tendency is to discuss what we did wrong.  This question gets us off to a positive discussion.
  2. What do we do the same?  We always want to go with what we need to do differently.  Maybe something worked really well and should be included next year.
  3. What went better than expected?  Events are always going to have those pieces that failed.  What about the parts that went better than you thought coming in?  You know what I’m talking about, because in your planning you wondered if that part would be successful.

These questions should be included in your overall evaluation with attendees.  Besides your evaluation, feedback from them could help drive the positive conversation.

Have you included positive questions in your feedback?  Which ones did you ask?  Did they effect your discussion?

3 Reasons You Should Use Hashtags At Your Events

Have you attended an event recently and noticed somewhere on the screen there was a symbol that looked like this: “#wcagls”?  That’s called a hashtag, and it is used frequently on Twitter.

Twitter defines hashtags the following way: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

Most events don’t utilize hashtags correctly.  Here are three reasons why you should:

  1. More Social Interest In Your Event.  People can follow along with your event by searching on Twitter for a particular one.  This is a great way to see what others are saying about your event.
  2. Encourages Tweeting.  When I attend an event, I love to share with my followers great content.  If I see a hashtag used, I’m more likely to Tweet more and get involved.
  3. Allows Other Attendees To Interact With Each Other.  Social media is a great outlet to meet other people.  Hashtags are a great way for people to meet other event attendees.

It is important to register your hashtag.  The last thing you want is to use a hashtag that has been used with another event.  Registering is very easy.  Visit http://twubs.com and follow their simple instructions on registering your events hashtag.

It is also important to publicize your hashtag.  I would recommend starting with early publicity material.  This would start the social conversation before your event takes place.

But it’s also important to publicize your hashtag at your event.  Put it everywhere:  tickets, banners, on the screen, lanyards.  You get the idea.

Hashtags also allow you to show Tweets on the screen.  This is a great way to engage your attendees.  Everybody likes to see their name on the screen.

How have hashtags worked for your event?

Should I Webcast My Upcoming Event

I went to a great event last month.  The speaker was doing a fantastic job, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if my brother could watch this?”  Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible for this event.  But the great thing about modern technology is you can webcast your event relatively easily.

Let’s talk first about why you would want to webcast your event.  I think there are 3 reasons why you should:

  1. It allows a bigger audience to see and to hear your speakers.  There are those moments when you’re sitting at a conference wanting to share what you’re hearing.  If the event is being webcast, it’s easy to pass along a link via email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or even text message.
  2. It makes other people want to be there.  People like to be a part of something.  You see a great sporting event on TV and dream of being in attendance.  Watching via webcast is one thing, but if your event is great, next year virtual attendees will do everything they can to be there in person.
  3. It creates a greater impact on the Internet.  Here’s what I mean: with all the social networks out there, people will take the opportunity to talk about your event (and speakers) which helps spread the word.  The more “social buzz” that is generated, the more people will check out your event.  This leads back to point #2 above.

Now, let’s talk about how to webcast.  Each event will be different and the event coordinator will need to work with the audio/visual guy to coordinate logistics.  Here are a couple of great services to webcast your event:

  1. Ustream.tv. This is a great free service that also has a very nice social plugin for viewers.
  2. YouTube. YouTube has recently allowed live streaming of events via Google+ Hangouts. Here’s a great article on how to set that up.

Have you done a webcast of your event?  How did it impact your event for the next year?


Why Make Team-Building A Part Of Your Retreat

What do you think of when you see the words team building?  My mind immediately goes to a trust fall…that’s the olde standby activity in most organizations.

I recently read a story about an NFL coach surprising his players with a bowling trip.  He used this time to build camaraderie between his players.  They’re a literal team.  The offensive line has to block for the quarterback.  The line backer has to support the defensive line.  You can see how those pieces come together.

Most organizations are not football teams but need similar team-building exercises.  Why?  Here are four reasons.

  1. Gets you out of your comfort zone. I’ve worked in big organizations and little organizations. When we’ve done a large group team-building exercise, I was forced to work with people inside the organization I didn’t know. This can be a great thing as it can lead to other collaborative ideas.
  2. Relationship building. This can relate to the first reason, because even in the same department, you may not know the person working in the cubicle next door.
  3. Allows you to see your co-workers in a different light. We always put up our work fronts. We probably don’t know it, but these fronts come up when we go to church or conferences. These team-building exercises allow these fronts to come down.
  4. Sometimes you need a reason to get out of the office. When I worked in a big organization, our department always took some time once a quarter to get out of the office. We went bowling or to the batting cages. Not much of a big deal, but it was great to laugh and get rid of that extra stress.

Do you find including team-building exercises as part of your event are important?  Why?  And what are some team-building exercises that you’ve used?

About the Author:  I am currently an artist manager for Michael Smith and Associates.  I work with promoters and event planners to coordinate their concerts that feature our acts.  I’ve been in the CCM business since I was in 8th grade having worked at a Christian bookstore and then Word Entertainment.  I’m also a drummer and attend ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, TN.  My wife, Caron, and I have one daughter, Molly Cate.  Most importantly, I’m an Apple fan. Follow me on Twitter: @KyleBJohnson