What is it that defines a successful event? Attendees should walk away feeling they got great value for their time and monetary investment. Workshop presenters should hope to be invited back. The overall event should pay for itself so it doesn’t lose money and can be put on again in future.
7 Characteristics of a Successful Event
Even though success may be hard to measure, there are some things that you can aim for and achieve that will show you had some successes with your event. Successful event traits include:
Successful Event Trait # 1: Getting PR
One way to measure the success of your event is by how much exposure you get. The best marketing is free marketing. Did a local news report mention your event, interview one of your speakers, or tell people about something else going on during your event? What about print exposure? Were people talking about your event online? Getting PR can help you have a bigger turnout the next time, especially if you are hosting an event in the same location time and time again.
Trait # 2: Excellent Feedback
The very best way to measure how successful your event was is by asking those who attended the event. Ask for feedback from attendees as well as suggestions for how to improve things. While some people do just like to complain, others will try to help you improve by pointing out what you did right and what you can do better. Always include an area on the feedback form that allows people to write a few notes. You’ll be surprised at some of the fabulous ideas you get that you can try to implement next time. It is also a good idea to keep feedback anonymous. Yes, you’ll get a couple of nastigrams, but you’ll also get some honest, helpful feedback that way.
Trait # 3: Speakers Have What They Need
A successful event is one that understands that speakers need tools to be able to give a good presentation. From overhead projectors to microphones and speakers that work, you should test these items before the big day and be on hand to fix anything that isn’t working. There is nothing worse than a speaker unable to talk to the crowd gathered in her room because her microphone has screechy feedback and it is hurting everyone’s ears. While some people can talk loud enough to be heard anyway, not everyone is capable of that. The speaker and the attendees will walk away feeling cheated.
Trait # 4: Things Were Organized
A well organized event tends to be a successful one. If you have assigned tasks to everyone, planned ahead, and have contingencies in place for emergencies, then things will likely run much more smoothly than if you try to host an event by the seat of your pants. One big area that should be well organized is registration. People should move quickly and smoothly through this process as it is the first impression people have of your event.
Trait # 5: The Food Was Good
Let’s face it – we are a food driven society. When we meet friends, it is often over dinner. When the family gathers, there is a big meal. People do look forward to meal times at a conference or event, so make sure they are amazing. Sample the caterer’s food before hiring him or her, for example. Go above and beyond. Offer three meals, snacks and a dessert bar. You want people to walk away thinking they got their money’s worth for the conference fee. While you might not be able to afford to feed them filet mignon, you can definitely feed them one of the tastiest chicken dishes they’ve ever tried.
Trait # 6: Unexpected Occurrences Were Handled Competently
At any event, something can and probably will go wrong at some point. The key to a successful event is in how these situations are handled. For example, a storm knocks the power out. Do you have a backup plan for that? Perhaps you can host a “share your success stories by candlelight” event in the main dining room and break everyone into groups with a speaker or presenter at each table. This can turn what would be a catastrophe into a memorable event. The key is to think through things that might go wrong and come up with a plan to deal with trouble ahead of time.
Trait # 7: Work Was Delegated
One person can’t do everything to pull off a successful event. You should surround yourself with people who are smart in different areas and utilize their knowledge and skills to pull off an amazing event. Is someone amazing at planing centerpieces or planning a party? Put that person in charge of the welcome gala. Is someone else great at lining up celebrity speakers because of her connections in the industry? Put her in charge of finding great speakers and making those speakers feel welcome at the event.
A successful event is far more than one that makes you money. People should talk about your event long after it ends, share their experiences with others, and look forward to the next time you host a conference or get together.