When it comes to event planning, the devil is in the details. Guests might not notice when things go right, but they certainly notice when they go wrong, and delivering a great experience means tending to every detail from start to finish.
That can be a recipe for job stress for meeting planners, but much of that stress can be mitigated by early preparation. When it comes time to planning your next event, be sure to avoid these event planning mistakes.
Not Being Tech-Ready
Technology may seem like something you can sort out on event day, but this may be one of the biggest oversights that prevent an event from running smoothly. Well before the event kicks off, your technology team should carry out a full tech-check and ensure everything is working accordingly. This includes guest list software, TV screens, projectors, microphones, adapters, and any other technology related items you plan to use.
Keep in mind that the noise levels will be higher on the day with audience chatter, so you will do well to have a dedicated sound expert on hand to make any real-time adjustments. PC and Mac compatibility issues are also often overlooked. For your sanity and those of the guest speakers, pick one operating system and stick with it.
Dedicated audio techs can ensure everyone can clearly hear presentations.
Failing to Communicate Pre-event
Your guest list is everything when it comes to a successful event. Yet for some reason event organizers tend to communicate either too much or too little leading up to an event. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and think about how much information you would like to receive from an event organizer. Provide all critical details (guest badges, full agenda, directions, and local resources) and any other ways in which to maximize their event experience.
A physical packet is ideal, but if you’re on a budget then a simple email will suffice. If there are significant changes to the agenda, communicate them as quickly and succinctly as possible. If it’s appropriate, be sure to circulate a list of attendees to all guests. This helps foster connections and can be a big benefit for many guests that come away with new opportunities.
Neglecting the Five Senses
First impressions matter and your guests will appreciate an environment that is warm, welcoming, and stimulating, and a large portion of that first impression comes from subconscious sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and touch.
To truly feel comfortable at your event, guests need their senses to be pleasantly piqued including the right temperature, memorable visuals, a pleasant aroma, delightful tastes, and a fitting soundtrack. Subtle items like the dress and friendliness of the welcoming crew, background music at an appropriate level for your event, ensuring trash cans have been recently emptied, and food that is fresh and healthy can make all the difference.
Forgetting to Fuel Properly
Speaking of taste, the most nourishing thing you can do for your guests is feeding and hydrating them well. Give special care to the catering. Not only do you want delicious food and snacks that provide energy, you also want to ensure they hit mouths at the right times. Give the catering team specific and clear instructions to guarantee that a schedule is adhered to and that freshness is not compromised.
Incorporating different dietary requirements and cultural preferences into your catering options is always a good bet. Having choice is essential when appealing to a large group of people.
Make sure your catering team has a clear understanding of the serving schedule.
Failing to Capture Your Event by Professionals
Planning on using a friend or just doing it yourself to capture video of your event? Think again. Conferences—particularly when it comes to video—look really boring. It’s a lot easier to make a live concert or sporting event look great on camera than a business event. To capture the feel and energy of the event, get footage of guests arriving, mingling, learning, being entertained, and more.
Hiring a video or livestream professional with experience facilitating a great conference and allowing guests to feel comfortable will set up your event photography or videography for success. They can shoot and edit your event, and ideally make it look even better than you imagined.
Failing to Follow up
Just like pre-event communication, it’s prudent to follow up with attendees. Provide guests with a recap and access to any content available during the event. A nice way to surprise attendees is to send bonus content as part of the recap. If appropriate, solicit feedback to gather data so you can make changes and improve for the next time around.
You can also encourage attendees to connect with one another and fuel further conversation through platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s also a great opportunity to plug your next event if there’s one in the pipeline.
Follow up with attendees after the event and encourage further connections.
Not Ending on a High Note
People always remember the ending, so make the conclusion to your event count. Plan your event program the way a band puts together a concert set list. They don’t play all their hits at the very beginning—they space them out through the set to keep the crowd always wanting more. Consider stacking your ‘wow factors’ at the right times throughout and save the best for last. This will carry the high energy from your main event into the post-event festivities.
A great event team makes all these tips much easier to implement. Your team must all be on the same page, handle logistics like pros, and be able to improvise on the fly. The guest experience should sit at the very top of your priorities list. These tips can help make all the difference—take them to heart and make your next event remarkable.