The Monday Revolution, says David Mansfield, visiting professor at Cass Business School, is a state of mind to apply on the first day of the week. It’s a metaphor for recognising that some things need to change. It’s an approach that relies on simple steps to achieve smart ways of getting things done.
I’ve attended many events over the years, with mixed results. Some have been exceptionally good, but a number less so. So what makes the expense and time spent worthwhile? And how can you ensure that your own event provides lasting value for you and your attendees?
Many companies use events as a business development tool. It allows them to showcase their company’s credentials and present their executives in a positive environment they can control. For others the simple aim is profit. Publishing companies who have developed new conference revenue streams to combat falling circulations. Or events companies themselves, by choosing topical subjects and hiring knowledgeable, high profile speakers, to draw in the crowds.
Whatever the motivation, all want to stage something successful that can be measured and repeated. There are many pitfalls to avoid and simple steps to take to improve the odds.
Here’s the Monday Revolution take on running a great event.
First, it’s not about what you want to say but about what they want to hear. It’s a mistake to start with your own agenda. The leading question should be how do we want them to feel as they leave the room? The simple answer might be more knowledgeable than when they arrived, a worthwhile use of their time and belief that the company who staged the event are experts in their field.
A common subject approach might be to take an imminent change in the market and be the organisation that owns the expertise and view. I worked with a company that were excellent at this. They timetabled coming legislative changes in a given market and decided they should always do two things. Present the new information as clearly as possible and overlay their expert view on the implications for current and prospective clients.
This required involving recognised experts from their own company, others outside, and building a programme that was compelling in its content. The company knew the recipient of the invitation should instantly feel this was worth checking their personal availability for, because it would be in their interest to attend.
Prior to the day the company would send out short teasers of information to build expectation. The events were always in the morning and never more than three hours. Why? Well, as we know, attendance falls dramatically after lunch as other priorities take precedence and people head back to the office. And maintaining quality for an entire day can be challenging.
The company ensured that each presentation was 15 minutes max and had one clear message. Ten minutes would be given over to Q&A and this would be the real opportunity to provide insight and expertise. Most people don’t rehearse this part but I think it’s essential. Not so much to anticipate questions, but to use the response as another moment to get a message across. Politicians do this constantly, unfortunately in a way so obvious it’s irritating. Done subtly, it’s highly effective.
Having an experienced conference chairman to keep everything tight and on track is essential. Whatever the aim of the event it’s critical to remember that the really important opportunities will occur in the following hours and days. There should be time for networking before and after as people really do value the time to connect with others in their sphere.
Where many companies slip up is putting all the effort into the event itself. To an extent that’s understandable but if the aim is to promote your company, build some new relationships and sell some services or products the follow up is critical. Yet so many companies don’t do this, they wait for the phone to ring and mostly it doesn’t. At events I’ve been involved in I tell the attendees I will personally be in touch to fix a time to meet. I follow this up within 24 hours and it’s highly effective. Under no circumstances allow this opportunity to pass.
A compelling event invitation on a topical subject, sent in good time to right the people can pay dividends. It will build your reputation and result in new relationships that will generate future profits.