Guest Blog Post: Our latest influencer article comes from a woman working in the event industry talking about the value of continued education. Are you interested in sharing your industry insights click here and share you story!
There is a reason professionals, especially executives, attend many conferences, networking events, and forums each year. The truth is, we didn’t learn it all in college, and as we grow within our careers, we need the continued education to stay relevant. There is an epidemic occurring, that we are reminded of every April on Equal Pay Day; women often do not receive the same compensation as men. It’s also prevent that they do not grasp at the same opportunities, such as professional development, largely because they do not ask for these opportunities. But when they do ask, transformational things occur in their careers. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to be at the forefront of that transformation as a woman working in the event industry.
From hosting educational events primarily for women, I can tell you one thing I know for certain: professionals crave education. They crave growth. They crave success. Why? They want to be relevant. To stand out. To make our mark.
Educational events give professionals the platform to connect and collaborate with others in the industry. They teach individuals about what’s trending and provide tangible skills that can be taken back to the office.
Building this platform, this education system, this community – it takes a small army. What really goes into hosting an intellectually rousing event and, better yet, what’s the impact
Production, Sales, and Marketing
We cannot dive into brand strategy without first outlining the team that needs to be in place for everything to come together.
Your production team’s main focus will be speaker line-up, the creation of session material, and overall, making the magic happen. These people are arguably the hardest working, most vital part of your event set up. Curious what your attendees will be snacking on during afternoon break? Looking for session material to revisit after the event concludes? Curious about how to get in touch with a speaker you loved? Production makes it ALL happen. They are your bread and butter.
Sales and marketing connect the event to your audience. If it weren’t for them, people would not know about the opportunity for professional development. Marketing works tirelessly to compose materials for the sales team, while sales works to reach the audience and deliver said materials. Sales and marketing serve as a channel of communication between eager professionals and educational events worth attending.
But What Really Drives Success?
The questions you answer before the planning even starts is what will make your educational event a success or a flop. You need a purpose. You need to understand the environment. Where do pain points exist in the audience’s role? What makes them passionate to go to work every morning? What’s their next step in career growth? Where are the gaps?
That’s the key – there are gaps. If there weren’t gaps, there wouldn’t be thousands of leadership and professional development books. There wouldn’t be countless webinars and Ted Talks. There wouldn’t be conferences and networking events.
Answering these questions, and many others are what allows you to build out an outstanding platform to educate and connect professionals. You aren’t just asking these questions to build educational material for sessions or topics at your conference. Yes, that’s where the ROI of attending is at, but what else is drawing them in? Networking? Meeting specific speakers in the industry? Connecting with certain organizations? Or are they truly drawn in by the session material alone? No two audiences will have the same answer.
Answering these questions prior to the building phase is what will allow you to create a desirable event
Three Things to Keep in Mind
Follow these guidelines to create a standout attendee experience:
1. They must have a great time on-site. This means enhancing every attendee touchpoint, from registration, to speaker outlines, to agenda accessibility, to catering, to the room temperature, to the speaker energy. On-site engagement is where your production and marketing teams must work cohesively to ensure brand representation and overall event flow is on-point.
2. They must take something out of it. This can be through three things: speakers, sessions, or networking. Before you put on your event, through research, you should know what your attendees expect to get out of their time with you. You must ensure they walk away checking all the boxes.
3. They must be able to present the ROI to their boss. This is vital. Every session, every workshop, every discussion needs to have tangible takeaways that they can document and report back. Better yet, if you can provide a certification of completion, you’ll knock this step out of the park.
What Attendees Are Saying
For over three-fourths of attendees, the event they are attending is the very first professional development event they have ever attended. That’s an outstanding statistic because it rings true for many of you reading this, who also might have never attended professional development.
As a woman putting on educational events for other business women, I can tell you the hardest part about getting individuals in the door is helping them seek approval. As women, we are conditioned to not ask. It’s my job to provide all of the materials, to present the promised ROI, so potential attendees have all the information they need to have that conversation with their boss.
What’s interesting is that every attendee takes away something different and the results are mind-blowing. Previous attendees have written back saying they went to work more rejuvenated. They’ve noted that they now understand their boss’s communication style and can better support the business. They’ve negotiated a higher salaries, gotten project management certifications, stepped into management, and the list goes on.
Take careful note to ask the right questions when planning. Do preliminary research to build the skeleton for your event. Ensure you enhance and tailor each of the three components listed above, onsite experience, a takeaway, and an ROI, to optimize each touchpoint. Have your sales, marketing, and production teams work closely together to fill the gaps. Hint: Don’t hesitate to utilize an all-in-one event management platform to help optimize touchpoints. Finally, incorporate feedback and share customer stories with your audience.
As you embark on your next event, remember, we are doing important work as event planners. We are providing platforms for professionals to tackle the greater questions and challenges. We are creating a thinking space. We are driving change.
If you are also a woman in events, know this: you are doing important work.