How to make your next business event unforgettable
A growing business needs to do all it can to entice new clients through the door. Networking is a great way to make this happen – and what better way to encourage professional mingling than by hosting an event yourself?
Business events give you the chance to bring your teams together, showcasing what you have achieved and the amazing services you can offer prospective clients. Get it right, and you’ll benefit from a motivational boost and keen interest from other businesses.
Here are the top tips for hosting a truly unforgettable event.
Hire the right figurehead
A great event needs a fantastic host who is able to capture attention and inform the audience with authority – and someone to deliver a speech to set the tone for your event. Not everyone has the necessary skills to perform this role. If you’re no speech writer and you despise public speaking, it could be time to call in the experts.
Providers like Speakers Corner can give expert advice, taking the time to get to know what makes your audience tick and matching your guests with the perfect speaker. Whether you prefer someone with comic timing to break the ice or someone a little more inspirational, there are many skilled hosts and speakers who can transform your event.
The host you choose should fit with your event strategy and budget. Successful event planners should define these clearly before they begin: though business events can be fun, they should also deliver results for a specific aim. Your boss needs to see a return on investment, and the speaker you choose can help to build an atmosphere that aligns with your goals and touches on your key theme.
If your aim is to boost workplace morale, a motivational speaker could be ideal. If you are planning a conference packed with industry news and the latest technology, hire a charismatic speaker with enough business knowledge to add value to the event.
Source talent from your network
Even the most talented event planners can’t manage everything alone. If you are a skilled host, talented chef and brilliant designer, taking on too much is still a recipe for disaster. Delegate to other organisations and you’ll have more time to look at the bigger picture.
There is great power in human connection – it’s the reason you are hosting an event in the first place after all! You may be surprised by how much talent is sitting in your business network, waiting to be unlocked.
If you work with a local printing business, ask them to help produce your marketing materials. Is there a talented photographer in your sales team? Ask for help and you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to step up.
Market your event
Poor turnout is a looming threat that’s always on an event planner’s mind. In order to get your message across effectively, you need plenty of guests. Few things kill the mood quite like a room packed with empty seats.
This is where marketing comes in. Your event needs to have a persuasive message that people want to engage with, whether it’s a charitable cause or essential information to help them get ahead in the industry. This is also where your speaker can come in as a big name can prove a decent draw in their own right. Brainstorm ideas then promote your event through social media, email and your company blog.
LinkedIn is a great tool for marketing a business event, offering more targeted access to the relevant audiences than other social channels. Ask your event sponsors and other guests to share posts or create a buzz around the announcement of your celebrity guest speaker. If you have the budget, you can even reach out to LinkedIn influencers to try to reach even more eyeballs.
Marketing doesn’t end the day before the event, however. You’ll need to ensure photographers and videographers are on standby to capture images of a thriving evening. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by, as the images you collect will act as great assets for marketing your next big event.
Provide great food and refreshments
Even if your event is small, the little things count. Providing coffee and a well-presented selection of bagels is a relatively low-cost way to make your guests feel cared for. A champagne reception keeps guests feeling entertained before the event kicks off, providing a great opportunity for your brand ambassadors to disperse event materials and facilitate networking.
Ensure you budget for this properly because a shortage of refreshments won’t impress guests. Encourage invited guests to RSVP so that you know how many people to cater for (although if in doubt, overestimate) and base your finance plans on this.
Have a contingency plan
Even with the best event planning skills in the world, things can go wrong at the last minute. Technology refuses to play ball, caterers cancel or venue repairs mean parking infrastructure is out of action. It happens. Creating a contingency plan is about asking the ‘what if?’ questions to cover every possibility.
The questions you ask should cover several key areas, including legal, technical and physical problems as well as human resources. To help with this, you can even use a contingency planning tool like this one from MindTools. Your plan B is an essential step that should follow a risk assessment, reducing the risk of everything from safety hazards to a PR nightmare.
Take the time to plan for every eventuality to ensure your business event is remembered for all the right reasons.