How ironic it is that most Indian parents expect their children to be engineers and work in IT firms. When my sister decided to study engineering, my parents were overwhelmed with joy; my father announced that all his kids would be engineers. Little did he know that I was in no mood of being an engineer and ever work in a MNC firm. I wanted to be an air hostess and deep down I knew that my father would not approve it. With a boom I killed my aim and destiny had other plans and I landed in a MNC firm in 2012 making my parents dream come true. I joined as a fresher in the marketing team, trust me I had no idea that an IT firm had a marketing team in the first place.
Today if I have come a long way and learned, I would give credits to the team as we are never restricted to do the task given to us and are given opportunities to explore within the team. It was a new leadership team at the marketing department and everyone was working towards the flagship event of the company hosted in the US. I was pretty excited about it as it was my first event and I am glad that I was a part of it. And voila, it was a huge success. With my experience of working with events in our high tech firm, I present to you the Ten Commandments of conducting a successful technology event.
Note: These are my personal experiences and all the points are tried, tested and successfully implemented
The Ten Commandments for conducting a technology event
1. The early bird catches the worm
Once we know we need to host an event, we got to start with the planning phase. Budgeting, deciding on the venue, time, dates, theme for the event, agenda and identifying the speakers and their availability becomes the first step. The early we start, the better the event would be.
2. The arrow that missed the head of its target will never hit the tail
Target the main audience where we could get greater value in return. We should limit the attendees who will bring value to the event/ firm. If we just invite attendees to fill the seats, the focus will be lost. Other than targeting the customers, we should also target existing suppliers, potential business partners and other groups that are important to our business.
3. A penny saved is a penny earned
We have already budgeted for the event and we are going to have +/- at the end of the event. As we are going to negotiate with our vendors cause everything is negotiable – even when our vendors tell us "No" and it's the best price they have done for us we should still go ahead and negotiate. The tip here is that we should always give our vendors a number that is 10% lower from our budget. I still remember one day my boss asked me to process a payment for a vendor and I said that I was still negotiating on the rates and payment terms, his immediate retort was whether I belonged to a particular sect of people in the country who are known for their bargaining prowess. He laughed out saying that I negotiate so much with the vendors. Every penny saved is a penny earned.
4. God helps those who help themselves
Create a master tracking sheet which will include every task that needs to happen along with deadline dates, responsible team member, current update of the task, challenges etc. This could be done on a spreadsheet that gives access to all the team members and every individual can update their work status online and all have the access to view the status of the event. We might tend to forget few tasks but having a master tracking sheet and working as team will ensure that we do not miss out on any point.
5. Don't put all your eggs in one basket
We should have a Plan B for every aspect in an event – there might be a situation when the item will not be delivered on time and something won't arrive at all. We were working on an event in the US and we were working from India on all the arrangements. The vendor had to deliver the pop up booth two days prior to the event and it did not happen. The worst thing was that the vendor was not reachable too. Those few minutes were a nightmare and I could see all the hard work over many months been washed away in just minutes. I had luck on my side with an alternative plan and the booth was delivered on time.
6. The cat is out of the bag
So here the secret of a successful event is out, we should remember the Power of 7 – It takes people seeing something at least 7 times before it registers in the mind. We should advertise the event 7 times using all channels.
7. Actions speak louder than words
We should take the event on social media, create hashtag, customize them as per our event and we should get our attendees, influencers, speakers to tweet, share about it in social media channels. Take pictures, loads of pictures and make them viral. Make the discussion.
8. A merry host makes merry guests
One should create a space that is welcoming and comfortable for the audience. Being thoughtful about people's needs is always a bonus. We should allow the audience to relax and be comfortable. Some ways of giving an enriching experience are providing child care, keeping the attendees' spouse busy with fun activities while they are attending the session, air tickets, hotel accommodation, food and most important an evening for a fun filled entertainment dinner which could be a great ice breaker prior to the event.
9. See which way the cat jumps
We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we grow. We need to seek and act upon the feedback which will indicate the success of the event.
10. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater
Once the event is over, do not discard all the material. Save the stuff that can be repurposed by storing them. Seal and Label them for easy reference in future and we can save cost on the next event too.