Planning and Bringing the Right People Lead to Successful Events

So much effort is put into planning your event or conference.  There are so many parts.  Many of which are moving and changing, some unpredictable completely.  You never know what you face until the day of the event.  


I have had the privilege of being on the front lines of many events.  Early morning hours rushing around the event location before attendees arrive.  I see the frantic hurrying of AV staff, the movement of the caterine setting up food tables. The clanking of the plates and cups. The smell of hot coffee and fresh breakfast fills the air.  But the staff does not have a happy look on their faces. More often than not the event planner has just found out some small detail that was overlooked or not setup properly and now they are faced with last minute adjustments.

This is a familiar scene to my team.  This is where we jump in, join the staff and become a problem solving force.  When it comes to the logistics and communications around our events, I have seen our team come in and provide solutions time and time again.

Table Mismatches: Today the tables for the speed networking do not match what was programmed into the system.  So attendees will be looking for table 25 for their match, but there is no table 25.  Or how do we find places to hold 700 matches with 40 slots in the day and a room that only holds 20 tables?

Match No Shows: The weather is bad and flights are canceled, so now 30% of matches have no partner to match with.  Where do these people go at match time? What will be their experience at your event?

Confused or Uninformed Attendees: Not enough communication to attendees or poor communication to attendees is a common issue that leads to low participation or turn out for a specific activity at the event.  How do you recover from 2% participation in a new feature in your app a full day into your 3 day event?

Distributing Backup Schedules: How do you distribute 487 printed schedules for those who did not download the app or are not savvy enough to use it?

Unusual Matches: What do you do when two sponsors, who purchased tables to meet matches, both want to meet each other? What table do they meet at?  Will the system support this type of matching?

Networking Conflicting with Session Times: How do you accommodate the tension of attendees wanting to go to a session when their match for the networking selects a time that conflicts with the session they want to attend?

Room Crowding:  How do you keep your speed networking room looking full and busy while still supporting places to hold the most matches the system will allow?  On the one hand the system wants a maximum number of tables, but this will require a large room that, parts of the day, may only have 20% usage.

What do you do about these challenging situations?  Do you make your best guess and jump in risking failure? Or perhaps do you consult with a team who has done this many times and has ideas.  


Join the discussion on Bridging the Generation Gap - Corporate Communication Strategies.  

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Why Gamify Your Next Event

Although the concept of gamification has been around for centuries, it has recently made a huge leap into the digital world and it only makes sense that associations join in the ride.  Using awards and badges to motivate people is nothing new, but taking that concept and dressing it up a bit to attract the younger generation will behoove the future of associations.

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They Gamified My Cereal! 


We have been preparing a presentation for our webinar on gamification next month, so the topic was on my mind.  This morning I was surprised to see a game on the back of my Honeycomb cereal (yes I'm still eating kids cereal once in a while). Actually I was not too surprised to see a game. In the past they've had activities like a maze or Where's Waldo game. But now they have jumped on board the Social Meda and engagement train. "Its not about what you do, it's how you make it yours", is the heading on the back of the box.  "RU Honeycomb 2 UR Core?", they ask. They specifically call out to skateboarders, music lovers and gaming. They give examples of the kinds of posts you could make.  Highest number of cereal pieces stacked, unusual foods to eat the cereal with.  They suggest posting a video to show "what makes you an original, like Honeycomb."  Brilliant! 

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Iteration: One Key Element of Design Thinking

Recently I was doing some research on a new technology and I was reminded of the value of iteration. During the research I noticed a very large number of failed attempts of getting the new technology to work. This reminded me of similar past experiences where trying something new often caused many, many failed attempts before something of value or usefulness was produced. It was a good reminder for me that many attempts actually produce very valuable insights. Each failed attempt is a painful experience, an emotional experience. That emotional experience forces a memory of what does not work. This emotional connection allows us to move forward in a new direction away from the failed attempt. The cycle of build, test, fail, feedback, learn and iterate, is invaluable to the development process that can be accomplished in no other way.

It is this process that design thinking emphasizes. Design Thinking is an approach whereby this process is accelerated allowing multiple iterations and in much shorter timeframe. The end result is a shorter time to a useful product or solution.

What problem would you apply Design Thinking to in your organization?  Comments welcome.

Crowdsourcing - What is it good for?

Crowdsourcing allows business to take innovation and creativity to a new level by collecting information from hundreds of minds and varied experiences. It allows anyone to contribute their ideas leaving race, gender, social standing, out.. There are a plethora of ways to utilize crowdsourcing for your next association conference that will engage your crowd and keep them talking after it ends.

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App Engagement Validation from Analytics and Metrics

Creating a solid app with a team of people is just the beginning.  Measuring and analyzing the use of your app is key to app success.  Carefully tracking progress not only aids in understanding how your app is being utilized, but it enables you to focus on whether to adjust features, or devote more energy toward promotion of the app.   By measuring information like shares, comments, likes, and bookmarks you can get a good feel for what your members want more of and content that you should reconsider.

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Gratitude is Stronger than Caffeine

Attitude is everything!  That has been my experience.  Recently I was working the mobile app support booth at an event we serve.  It was a large event. The users had lots of questions, mostly about Wifi, not the mobile app.  I helped hundreds of people over the course of a few days and it occurred to me that attitude is so important, both my own and that of the customer.

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Listening Leads to Learning

Recently at a "event wrap up" meeting, which we do after most client events, we recevied some very helpful feedback. We listened, we planned, and we reviewed. We brainstormed on how to make things better for next year.  We planned a few new features and the client learned a thing or two.

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Awards: Why They are a Big Deal for Members and Organizations

When a volunteer is working really hard on a program or for an organization, it is important to be recognized for work well done.  Awards Programs provide an opportunity to recognize volunteers and organizations that go above and beyond. Thanking organization members not only encourages them to continue working hard, it gives a sense of place within the organization.  Awards programs are something members can look forward to each year. It inspires one to push beyond what they believe they are able to do.  Leaders also see the effort made, allowing members to further their organizational objectives.

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Mentoring by Matching

Mentoring has become increasingly popular with associations recently.  The basic premise is to “match up” the experienced with the novice to exchange ideas, guide and even challenge each to grow beyond their current limits. Some groups are moving past informal to formalized programs and even going hi-tech in the process of matching.


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