15 Simple yet Powerful Tips to Fix Your Q&A Session at your conference
Despite the infamous awkward silence that follows “Are there any questions?” Q&A sessions have the potential to be the best learning moments at conferences.
When delivered well, questions and answers can close the gap between the content the speaker has prepared and what the audience wants to hear.
To help you make your Q&A session worthwhile and engaging, we compiled 15 easy-to-implement tips that you can use at your next one – from planning to facilitation to using interaction technology.
Include more time for questions in the speaker’s slot
Let’s be honest: a few minutes at the end of the presentation for one or two questions from a moderator doesn’t count as a Q&A session.
If you want to host a meaningful discussion between the delegates and the speaker, you need to dedicate more time to it. A good rule of thumb, if circumstances allow, is to allocate about one-quarter of the presentation slot to the Q&A.
For example, if you plan for a 40-minute session, give the speaker 30 minutes for the presentation and leave 10 minutes for the Q&A.
Brief your speakers before the event
Many planners underestimate the importance of proper briefing. They forget that a 40-minute slot on the agenda doesn’t equal 40 minutes of a speaker’s presentation. You need to account for introduction and questions as well.
When briefing your speakers, give them clear instructions, e.g., “You’ll have 30 mins for the talk and the remaining 10 mins will be dedicated to the Q&A.” Be sure to set the timing accordingly in your run of show and on the confidence monitors.
Put a separate block of Q&A after a few presenters
As an alternative to traditional speech + Q&A format, you can also host a joint Q&A session after a block of speakers. Take inspiration from London’s leading product conference JAM.
JAM hosts a 20-minute Q&A after two presenters speak on a similar topic, facilitated by a moderator. This creates enough space for interaction and answering more audience questions.
Replace keynotes completely with the Q&A formats
Not all experts are skilled public speakers. The need to prepare a presentation might even put off some speakers from attending your conference.
To overcome both shortcomings, swap keynotes for more conversation-friendly formats like fireside chats or panel discussions. They put less pressure on the speaker and create more opportunities for incorporating audience questions into the talk.
Create a separate stage for AMA only
Another approach to allow for more conversations during your event is devoting one stage for Q&A sessions. The largest independent startup community, Startup Grind, implements this format with great success.
Since Startup Grind’s packed agenda doesn’t allow for long Q&As on the main stage, it sets up a separate Q+A Popup stage with 30-minute slots for questions and answers per speaker. That way, the speakers can dive deeper into their topics and the audience can take away the priceless insights it came for.
Let the moderator ask the first question
When you open the floor for questions, the audience is still in the listening mode, processing the talk. As the delegates are put on the spot, they may end up sitting silent rather than risk asking a silly question.
As a seasoned moderator, Jan-Jaap in der Maur, put it: “The speaker was allowed weeks or even months to prepare, so why should the attendee have to deliver questions in 10 seconds?”
To give attendees more time to come up with questions, have your moderator ask the first couple of questions. They should be relatively familiar to the speakers so they can start the Q&A on a strong note. Alternatively, you can agree on the opening questions before the talk.
Have the moderator walk among the audience
It’s great when your moderator can work directly with your audience. Ask him or her to encourage people to ask questions and walk toward the participants with a mic. The interaction will be more natural and informal than waiting for people’s questions and reactions on stage.
In a larger crowd, walking among the audience is even more important. Make sure that the moderator reaches even the very last rows. This way, he or she can ensure that the participants in the back are also included.
Repeat the question asked by the audience member
Sometimes, the question can be incomprehensible or disguised as a comment. Before letting the speakers react, rephrase it for both them and the audience to make sure everyone understands the question.
Let people brainstorm the questions together
If your event design allows it, consider a more creative approach to facilitating the Q&A. Ask people to collaborate and think of a good question in pairs or groups.
Have them submit questions via Q&A app and combine it with personal facilitation. Let the moderator walk around the room and bring up some of the questions and reflections he or she hears.
Apart from raising more relevant questions, it’ll help people formulate their thoughts and exchange them with others.
Change the way you ask for questions
How you ask for questions matters. Try replacing “Do you have any questions?” with an open-ended variant “What questions do you have?” like this math teacher did. Even a little change in wording can make a huge difference.
Alternatively, if you don’t want the Q&A to get off track, you can steer the debate by inviting only topic-related questions, e.g., “What questions do you have about the SEO practices?”
Introduce the tool at the start
Using Q&A platforms is a great way to crowdsource the most interesting questions from the audience. But as with everything, new things take some time to adopt.
As a part of your welcome remarks, let your audience know that you’ll be using an event tech and explain how it works. Ideally, you can go through the instructions with the attendees to make sure they are able to join in.
Get the Q&A started with pre-seeded questions
Even if you implement a Q&A tool, people still need a nudge to post their questions. To get the conversation going, prepare a few questions yourself and post them during the speakers’ talk. Seeing other questions will motivate participants to join the Q&A and submit their own questions.
Let the audience decide which questions should be asked
Many Q&A tools including Slido enable participants to upvote the questions. It helps you find out which topics resonate with your audience, and which questions they want the speaker to address.
Therefore, remind people throughout the event to vote for the questions they like the most, especially when the Q&A session is coming to an end and there’s not enough time to go through all of them.
Always ask two or three of the top voted questions
To show participants that you care about the questions they submitted, it’s important to address at least a few of them. If ignored, people might refrain from posting any questions later.
If you don’t have time to answer any, always comment on the situation and say thanks so that your participants’ effort doesn’t go unnoticed.
Share the unanswered questions post-event
Once the Q&A turns into a lively discussion, you might end up with far more questions than you’re able to handle. But that’s nothing to be afraid of.
Many speakers welcome the chance to answer audience questions after their talk, as it gives them an opportunity to create valuable post-event content and continue the conversations from the event. Make sure to send the presenters the list of remaining questions from their talk if they request it.
A great Q&A session is usually a combination of thoughtful preparation, masterful moderation and skillful use of interaction technology. And, naturally, an intelligent and curious audience population. Use the tips above to make your next Q&A a success.
4 Reasons Why Events Are the Best Marketing Investment
Events, conferences, and trade shows are huge investments for businesses that can have a significant impact on business opportunities and revenue growth. However, with the expense of sponsorship, travel, setup, sales resources, and dynamic/engaging booths, it’s imperative that you do all you can to maximize the return on your investment – especially when you have to justify events as opposed to easier, less expensive sales and marketing channels online.
If events were not lucrative opportunities, there would be no need to organize them. Meetings with other businesses and users at these events do not just increase sales; according to a report by Meetings Mean Business, they are also the most effective marketing channel for driving key business objectives. Today, nearly half of all brands realize a 300%-500% ROI with event meetings and experiences.
With so much potential and the stakes being what they are, businesses attending these events need to focus their attention on making productive contacts and forming lasting connections. In this post, we’re going to show you why you should invest in events and just how to make the most of that investment.
Events As An Effective Marketing Campaign
As effective as online marketing and meetings are, there can be a sense of depersonalization; a loss of that human touch. Millennials prefer events and see them as an opportunity to make meaningful connections in person. Successful brands know this and actively take advantage of events to reap maximum benefits.
Live events are an excellent platform for not only getting your values across but also for conveying your company narrative; you can discuss your values and objectives personally in a way that an ‘About Us’ page simply cannot. Events are also the perfect venue for expressing your messages creatively and offering physical, real-time engagement with your brand and products.
If the event is a good fit, the high concentrations of customers and qualified prospects offer an unparalleled opportunity to meet them face-to-face, have them talk to your company experts about their challenges, and show them how to solve those challenges with meetings, demos, trials, promos, etc.
19% of buyers prefer to meet with a salesperson during the awareness stage of the buying process and 60% want to connect with company experts during the consideration stage once a shortlist has been produced. Events let you fast-track through both stages for a targeted segment of warm leads while giving the nearly 80% of those leads who ultimately want to talk to you direct access to your sales team.
Events Are A More Personal Business To Business Approach
Substantiating your event ROI involves not only comparing the cost of the event to the value it brings in and of itself, but also comparing it to the relative ROI of alternatives like online meetings.
There are a number of factors to consider, from the monetary value delivered to many stakeholders to less directly quantifiable metrics that nevertheless have an impact on your sales and marketing goals. Here are a few of the unique advantages of live events:
Focus. One advantage is the incentive for everyone there to make the most productive use of their time. Removing screens makes it easier to have personal interactions and focussed discussions. There is less noise, meaning that you are able to give leads your full attention.
Trust. Sales are about connections, relationships, partnerships. Trust in the brand and service are essential. Having a human touch reassures customers that they are not just giving money to a faceless corporation. In conversation, a customer or lead can put a face to the companies that they want to do business with. This is especially important within a B2B context, where support and a main point of contact are linchpins of a long and happy partnership.
Strong Impressions. In-person customer engagements are a chance for businesses to introduce themselves and present a professional and competent face to key prospects. Events can allow you to better convey your solutions, brand promise and personality, especially if you’re a small-to-medium sized business competing for larger contracts.
Dialogue. For important contacts, live events offer the chance to have a real-time, in-depth conversations – a dialogue around their biggest challenges and a demonstration of how, specifically, you can help to solve them.
Events Are Increasingly Tangible
The next question is how to measure these advantages of in-person meetings. Events represent huge potential, but with such a high investment and so many stakeholders, the accountability expectations are high for both event professionals and senior executives.
While there are a number of tried and tested methods of gathering useful event data, event technology has evolved in response to the demand for hard data. Now, event engagement is largely funneled through event apps and other tech, and supporting analytics are essential.
Unfortunately, most of the booth traffic and gamified crowd pulling ends up generating a large number of worthless leads or are underutilized assets. It is a well-understood fact that more than 95% of leads from events do not convert into real business value. This is where B2B meetings come to bat, as they can be pre-scheduled with prospects or customers, assuming special significance when the representatives of an enterprise (CXOs, subject matter experts, etc.) are involved in key discussions and drive tangible ROI.
Meeting Automation: How to Get the Best Out of Your Event
Another leading trend defining events is meeting automation. Most mid and large companies have realized that events are the hub of B2B meetings and they need automation to increase the number and the quality of these customer engagements. These meetings are the leading indicator of the sales pipeline, which is a more tangible outcome from event and helps justify the spend.
What Exactly Are ‘Meeting Automation Platforms’?
Event planners and senior executives put a lot of effort into meeting scheduling and management, but manual processes are usually error-prone and deliver a less than optimal outcome. However, events and meetings are tough to manage alongside everything else that comes with attending an event. Fortunately, there is a simpler way of doing things.
Meeting automation platforms, also known as MAPs, are platforms that are designed to do critical tasks, such as meeting scheduling and tracking, and provide real-time statistics for you to analyze. Being able to schedule, manage, and analyze meetings with a few clicks means that you can focus on being present in meetings and getting the most out of your time. No more relying on misplaced and disorganized notes and information – meeting automation systems keep everything in one place.
Using a MAP allows you to change the way you plan for meetings and events. These systems have been able to reduce the manual work that goes into meeting planning by up to 80 percent. So, instead of focusing all your attention on the process, it lets you spend time on what’s really important – the meeting.
With events being such important opportunities for businesses and carrying often very high stakes, it is imperative that every meeting justifies your investment in the event. Meeting customers and other businesses drives the sales pipeline and can lead to long-term relationships. However, it is difficult to track your success in real-time in the time between meetings during hectic events.
Meeting automation systems take the guesswork out of analyses by taking on menial tasks, helping you manage the event, and giving you accurate and detailed data for you to take and adapt in the future. Planning and marketing an event is already hard enough; having the support of a quality system can take some weight off of your shoulders.
AI for Events: How to Incorporate Artificial Intelligence Into Your Conference
The future is now. Technology that once felt like a far-off mystery is here, and it’s here to stay. Artificial intelligence, in particular, is disrupting the event industry in ways we once only imagined were possible. Whether or not you feel like you have a good grasp of AI, it’s clear that it can completely change the event planning process, attendee experience, and your ability to collect post-conference data.
But before we dive into how AI is changing the event industry — and how you can incorporate it at your conference or event — let’s start at the beginning.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, can seem pretty ambiguous. And if that’s how it feels to you, know that you’re not alone. AI means different things across different industries. However, in the event industry, it usually refers to technology or machines that can understand and engage in an environment using words, syntax, and smart learning.
Believe it or not, most of us use artificial intelligence on a day-to-day basis. Alexa, what’s the weather today? Siri, call mom. You get the picture. Chatbots are one of the most widely-used AI technology, but there’s obviously much more to it than that.
So, how exactly is AI impacting the event industry?
AI is significantly improving the ways we can connect our attendees. Rather than hoping that random connections lead to mutually beneficial business relationships, we can now use AI technology to more strategically match attendees who share the same interests, experience the same challenges, and have aligning goals within an industry.
Chatbots are being used to conduct conversations with site visitors, event app users, and within event specific communication channels to emulate the way a human would respond.
They can answer questions, keep in contact with attendees, and provide information as requested. Often, chatbots can work through third-party messaging apps that users already have and don’t require another app or extension. So not only are they easy to deploy across multiple platforms, but they also save your staff time and energy by responding to frequent queries, allowing you to focus on other areas of the event planning process.
Interested? Check out Eventbots. Eventbots is an artificial intelligence chatbot that helps participants get information about your specific event over text, anytime, anywhere, without the need to download a new app.
Personalized event experience and deeper attendee understanding:
We can’t mention AI without talking about it’s “deep-learning” abilities. Utilizing AI at your events means deeper attendee insights, allowing you to provide more personal event experiences for individual attendees, based on their unique interests. Whether it’s recommending which sessions to attend or people to network with, AI can help make your event much more personalized.
Removing Language Barriers:
If there’s one thing AI can do well, it’s process and translate languages. If you’re ready to take a nationwide event worldwide, or simply connect people across cultures, AI can accurately and instantly translate web pages, content, and any other event-specific communications.
Now that you know all the ways AI is improving our ability to plan successful events, you might be wondering how to put what you’ve learned into practice.
How can I incorporate AI into my conference, tradeshow, or event?
The first step to incorporating AI into your event is to determine your overall goals. Most often, it revolves around one of these things:
Offer better networking opportunities:
According to a 2018 study by the International Association of Exhibition and Events, 76% of nearly 9,000 participants indicated that networking was a top driver when deciding whether or not to attend a conference or event.
That’s a pretty powerful statistic. So, how can AI be used to improve networking? For starters, it can completely customize recommendations for peer-to-peer networking, buyer/seller networking, and mentoring networking events.
Let’s consider this form an attendee perspective. For example, let’s say you’re an attendee at 2,500 person event. At a traditional networking session, you might find yourself in a room full of strangers at a cocktail mixer or coffee break — with no idea who to approach, what types of people are in the room, and how to find the people who share the same interests as you. Not ideal.
And as an event planner, we get it, planning a session takes time. An unstructured networking session can be easy to put together. But what if we told you there’s a way to increase the quality *and* quantity of connections at your sessions without having to spend any extra administrative planning time?
Matchmaking software can interpret attendee data based on their interests, career experience, geographical location, and pretty much any other way that you want to categorize attendees, all at the touch of a button.
This way, each attendee receives a personalized list of like-minded people to network with. Say goodbye to sessions where attendees don’t meet the right people or get stuck talking to the wrong people.
Improve attendee communication:
Chatbots are not only easy to implement but extremely effective to use. They can communicate with attendees in real-time and answer questions, provide information, and share updates without all of the complexity of an event app. In fact, it’s possible that chatbots could replace the need for event apps in the future, especially for smaller events.
Understand your audience better:
Dive deeper into attendee data with the help of AI. Artificial intelligence can be used to quickly analyze attendee engagement and satisfaction. The best part? You can view and interpret the data as the event is happening.
Improve event planning process:
According to Forbes Magazine, Event Coordinator was the 5th most stressful job in America in 2017. There’s no denying that we’ve all experienced our fair share of long hours and late nights. There are so many moving parts that go into planning a conference, tradeshow, or event, so the more you can streamline the process, the better.
AI can help save you hours — if not days — by automating processes and sorting through complex data.
No matter how much you currently do — or don’t — understand about AI and its ability to impact the event industry, it’s clear that it’s here to stay. So the sooner you stay on top of this trend and start taking advantage of all the ways it can improve the attendee experience, the better.
If you’ve already incorporated AI technology at one of your events, let us know how your experience was! We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. As the technology continues to change and evolve, we anticipate new trends and tools we’ll all need to start learning. Let’s tackle them together and continue to create unforgettable experiences for our attendees.
Happy event planning!
Copyright to www.speednetworking.com
Networking Games: 4 Icebreakers, Activities & Ideas for Your Next Event
Event planning is all about creating memorable experiences for your attendees and helping them connect with fellow event-goers. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, networking games can be an effective—and fun—way to connect attendees.
Unfortunately, networking is often overlooked. Sure, a cocktail reception can be better than nothing, but is it an effective way to connect the right people? Simply put: it’s not. We’re not here to hate on mix and mingle events, but we do think there are better session options available.
A lot of times event planners think cocktail welcome receptions are a laid-back, relaxing way for attendees to network. The thing is, though, they aren’t relaxing. For a good majority of people, networking events without any structure are intimidating. Approaching random people takes courage. And even with it, there’s no guarantee the right people will come in contact with each other.
Instead, we’re here to tell you about more strategic and more fun networking ideas. Here are 4 options we’re recommending and why we are focusing on these over anything else.
Networking games that utilize matching technology:
1. Speed networking:
Most people have heard of speed dating, but not everyone has heard of speed networking. So, what exactly is it? In short, speed networking is an accelerated way to maximize the number of new connections an attendee can make. Not only that, it also takes any awkwardness out of having to approach random strangers.
Each speed networking round typically ranges from 5-10 minutes so that attendees have enough time to talk and establish a connection but not long enough that attendees feel stuck if they end up not having anything in common.
Sounds pretty efficient right? Well, if you also want to increase the quality of connections in addition to the quantity, matching software can be used to pair attendees who have shared interests. It’s quite literally matchmaking for professionals. The only thing you need to do is decide how you can categorize your attendees.
After that, attendees dictate which categories of people they’re interested in networking with through a short survey they fill out when registering. From there, the software uses an advanced algorithm to create customized meetings for each attendee. It doesn’t get much more personalized than that.
And, the average 90-minute networking session with 100 participants generates around 300 new connections, but a speed networking event creates more than 1,000 in the same time period. That’s 333% more meaningful connections!
You can also choose from a variety of different event objectives, including peer-to-peer, exhibitor/attendee, and mentoring.
2. Round tables:
Everyone has heard of round tables, but hear us out. We aren’t talking about traditional round tables – we’re talking about targeted round tables. Targeted round tables offer strategic seating assignments to improve group networking. As with speed networking, you’ll decide how to categorize your attendees and break up people accordingly. But don’t worry, it doesn’t require a ton of manual manipulation or administrative time.
Here’s why. There’s already technology that can create strategic seating assignments at the touch of a button. At the event, you can create fun prompts to help kick off the conversations. Group settings like this can be less intimidating than one-one-one meetings.
Networking games that are contest driven:
3. Business card collection:
If you’re set on hosting a mix-and-mingle session, try adding an element of competition. Having a contest can increase the chances that your attendees branch out and meet more people.
Offering a business card collection could be the extra push that attendees need to really branch out.
Offering a prize to the winner isn’t a bad idea either. After the contest ends, consider offering another session that isn’t so fast-paced. The business card collection is a great ice breaker but the conversations will probably be brief. Giving them time after to continue those conversations is definitely worthwhile.
Networking games that promote teamwork:
4. Scavenger hunts:
Scavenger hunts are becoming an increasingly popular way to promote teamwork and help attendees meet new people. You can do event-wide or even city-wide scavenger hunts.
Between visiting sponsor booths, posting to social media, reaching out to new attendees, and answering questions about sessions, scavenger hunts can be a great way to increase both exhibitor and attendee engagement.
If you’re wondering how exactly it works, it’s essentially like this: your attendees will download a scavenger hunt mobile app and see a list of challenges they need to complete. These challenges can be completely wrapped up in your event. Each challenge will have a certain number of points, with a prize awarded to the winner(s).
Scavenger hunt challenges could include things such as:
Visit 2 sponsor booths
Share a picture on instagram with our event backdrop
Find a fellow attendee who shares the same job title as you
Refer a colleague who you think would enjoy this event next year
Answer a question about your thoughts on the keynote speaker
Suggest a session for next year
If you want to learn more about incorporating a scavenger hunt into your event, these are some resources you can use: Eventzee Conference Scavenger Hunt App, CadmiumCD’s Knowledge Hunt, and Go Scavenger Hunts.
Hopefully these networking games can help simplify your event planning process! It’s safe to say there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into planning a successful conference or corporate event. The good news is, these solutions include technology that does most of the work for you.
Here’s to you, your event planning, and your best event yet.
7 Rules for Creating Effective Stand-Up Meetings
Not every meeting requires the full conference table sit-down. When you need to quickly get everyone updated and on the same page, the daily stand-up meeting is the way to go. Stand-ups are designed for maximum productivity — they’re quick, focused, and collaborative.
This article is a blueprint for setting up successful stand-up meetings. Learn about the advantages of stand-ups, what you’ll need to get started, and how to organize your meeting.
What is a stand-up meeting?
A stand-up meeting is a short, productive daily meeting during which participants stand, as a reminder to keep things concise. Popularized by the Agile movement, stand-up meetings allow project or product teams to quickly touch base, report progress, and align on project goals.
Stand-up meetings are usually held in the beginning or end of the day to talk daily tasks and last only 10-15 minutes, so you just walk in to the meeting room, quickly address blockers or accomplishments, and walk right out.
4 Benefits of stand-up meetings
Stand-up meetings are a great way for teams to align short- and long-term goals, along with personal tasks and overall team projects. With minimal organization and preparation required, teams can come together to set priorities and communicate quickly and effectively.
1. Shorten feedback loops
Unless you keep a list of questions to ask or hiccups you come across while working through a project, important information gets lost in the shuffle when you wait between weekly meetings to bring the team together. Daily stand-ups keep everyone on the same page, sharing the latest information and learning from other team members. Get answers in real time and face-to-face on a daily basis.
2. Identify problems faster
Small problems oftentimes can escalate and have unforeseen consequences when not addressed in a fast manner. Stand-up meetings let you sync up with your teammates on a daily basis, allowing you and your colleagues identify blockers quickly and as they arise. Not only does this team meeting enable problem solving, you can also nip problems in the bud before they snowball into bigger issues.
3. Align on goals and tasks
When you get in the groove at work, it's easy to get lost in the details and forget to see your projects from a broader scope. Every team member has their own tasks and goals they’re focused on, which makes it easy to lose sight of how you’re contributing to the team’s goals. Stand-ups are a great reminder to align team goals and reiterate each team member’s role to the team.
4. Interact with teammates
Emails are easy to skip over or skim through, and phone conversations lack the face-to-face interaction we need to stay focused, alert and on topic. Daily stand-ups keep team members fully engaged and collaborating with one another, allowing colleagues build better relationships by talking to each other face to face. They also minimize multi-tasking since the meetings themselves are only 10-15 minutes!
7 rules for effective stand-up meetings
While the concept of a short, interactive meeting might seem too good to be true, having productive and topic-focused yet quick meetings with your colleagues is actually pretty achievable. Here are a handful of rules to guide you towards a successful cadence of stand-up meetings:
1. Be mindful of everyone's time
A stand-up meeting is called a stand-up meeting, because no one should be taking the time to get comfortable in the meeting room. These meetings should only take 15 minutes tops, so keep the meeting short and brief! If you need time to elaborate on certain topics, follow up with an email or another designated time to meet and discuss further.
2. Establish a goal
A huge benefit of stand-up meetings is that they force teams to prioritize. By address the team’s goal right at the beginning of the meeting (or even before!), you cut out any unrelated topics and make the most of everyone’s time. Team members will walk in to the meeting with questions prepared.
3. Stay focused
Once you’ve established a meeting agenda and goal, stick to it! Choosing a facilitator or scrum master can help keep the meeting organized, stay on track and maintain structure. But don’t let your facilitator take over the meeting — make sure everyone still has a chance to talk and address anything they need to!
4. Adapt the format as necessary
Speaking of meeting structure, it’s important to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for stand-up meetings. Each team has its own culture, needs, number of team members to accommodate, diversity of perspectives, and more.
One easy way to structure your meeting is to round robin style so everyone gets a chance to speak every time. You can even select what topics to address in each meeting — i.e, project updates, blockers and challenges — or you can always just let your team guide you. Do what feels comfortable for you and your team!
5. Include remote employees
It’s easy to overlook your remote teammates for stand-ups since they aren’t physically in the building. Luckily with tools like video conferencing, you can loop in everyone from any location.
Lifesize has designed stand-up meeting solutions for countless companies and has developed a professional line of audio and video conference equipment — including the only 4K video conferencing camera system on the market. Team members can instantly connect from anywhere with the Lifesize desktop and mobile app.
6. Stay consistent
Consistency is key when it comes to making routine stand-up meetings — just by being consistent, you can increase productivity, enhance the way your team communicates with one another, and make the condense the meeting to be even shorter. To stay consistent:
- Hold stand-ups at the same time each day
- Use the same format for all stand-ups
- Stick to the time frame (usually 10-15 minutes)
7. Don't forget to follow up
When you establish a goal in your stand-up meetings, don’t forget to follow up and make sure your conversations and projects are progressing. Following up after your daily stand-ups is crucial because it builds transparency across your team. Expectations should be reiterated, next steps should be taken, and teammates should be held accountable.
Example of a stand-up meeting agenda
You don’t need much for a stand-up meeting agenda — since they’re so short, all you need is a handful of questions to get the ball rolling and prompt team members to provide status updates. You can have a set of questions that each team member can answer or specific questions aimed at certain team members. Here are a few examples that can get your stand-up meeting started:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Where are you stuck?
- What do you need help on?
- What's one "win" or key finding from today you would like to share?
3 tools you need for effective stand-up meetings
For a successful stand-up meeting, having an agenda is just half of it. Enhance your stand-up meetings with extra tools that can loop in remote workers from any location and keep your meetings running smoothly.
Reliable Video Conferencing App
Video conferencing apps like the Lifesize app tie your audio and video equipment together into an intuitive and easily accessible interface. The Lifesize app features interactive tools for collaboration, wireless screen-sharing, pinch-to-zoom and listen-only capabilities and more. The Lifesize mobile app even lets your team members bring all these features with them on the go wherever there is an internet connection and is interoperable with a number of third-party devices for easy collaboration.
To transform your stand-up video conferences into immersive and authentic real-life face-to-face interaction, you’ll need an HD-capable camera and display screen. Lifesize builds meeting room solutions that are customized for the collaborative and agile atmosphere of stand-up meetings.
The Lifesize Icon 300 is designed specifically for small huddle meetings. Flexible mounting options let you place the camera anywhere in the room, set up is plug-and-play, and the camera has 4K capability to provide unmatched realism and clarity in your conference room. Paired to a Lifesize Phone HD, feel the full effect of an integrated and unmatched collaboration experience.
Calendar integrations ensure that team members know when the meeting is and are able to join easily. Lifesize’s external calendar integration syncs with Google calendar and Microsoft products, so you can get notified and join the meeting right from inside Google and the Microsoft Teams app. You can even book Lifesize Icon systems as a resource for easy scheduling and reservations!
Copyright to www.lifesize.com
5 Things Successful Event Planners Do to Set Themselves Apart
1. Prioritize like a pro.
Let’s face it. In the events industry, time is often limited. It’s go-go-go, which can sometimes make it feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The key to keeping your cool and managing all of the moving parts that come with putting a successful event together is to learn to better prioritize.
First, put together a list of all your tasks for the day as they come to your mind. For now, don’t worry about order – just list everything you want to get done. From there, go through the list and decide what is urgent vs what is important. Urgent means that if it doesn’t get done by the end of the day, there will be negative consequences (deadlines will be missed, workflow will be interrupted, etc).
Once you’ve determined which tasks are urgent and require immediate attention, move on to tasks that are important. If this is something you struggle with, a good rule of thumb is to consider the number of people it impacts. The more people it impacts, the more important it is.
Next, if tasks tie in importance, consider the amount of effort each will take. Which one can you more realistically complete in one day’s time? There will undoubtedly be days you can’t check everything off your list. But improving your prioritizing can help you check the right things off.
2. Adapt and readapt.
Successful event planners understand that with so many moving parts last minute changes are bound to happen. Learning to adapt to these changes and take them in stride is an important skill to develop as an event planner.
You should never go into an a planning project thinking everything is set in stone. Keeping an open mind and understanding that you might have to think on your feet can help you stay a step ahead. Adapting will help you determine the appropriate steps of action and stay calm when changes and challenges arise.
3. Never stop learning.
The events industry is always evolving. New technologies are coming out everyday, disrupting the way we work, or rather, used to work. To keep a competitive edge, staying on top of trends is extremely important, particularly when it comes to new technology.
Some of the latest trends involve matchmaking technologies to created targeted networking sessions that better connect event attendees, event apps to manage registration, chat rooms, live Q&A sessions, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to communicate and collect data on a much larger scale.
If you haven’t heard of (or looked into) any of these innovate technologies, you should! Continuous learning is key to being a successful event planner. Sign up for newsletters, join LinkedIn groups, and connect with industry peers to ensure you’re on top of the latest event innovations.
4. Use data for decision making.
The most successful event planners know the power of data-driven decisions. They collect data, analyze data, and act on data. Everything they do is driven by data. Are you sick of reading the word data?
Seriously though, event planning shouldn’t be a guessing game any more than it has to be. While there are obviously some limitations, data should be at the forefront of your event planning strategy. If you don’t currently have the tools to collect consumer data, it might be time to check out some of the previously mentioned event technology.
5. Listen and ask for help when needed.
Event planners that are good at their job are good because they know how to listen to their colleagues, clients, vendors, and volunteers. Doing so allows them to have all of the important information needed to make informed choices. Without all of the information, it’s easy to move too fast or make impulsive decisions – decisions that can often cost you time or money.
Unfortunately, there’s not always time to listen to every piece of the puzzle in the events world. At times like this, successful event planners know it’s time to ask for help rather than get overwhelmed and try to take on too much. Learning to recognize this and delegate tasks is an essential part in ensuring your event plan isn’t comprised. As event planners, it’s easy to want to take it all on. It’s sometimes hard to say no. You want to be trusted to handle every aspect of an event. We get it. But more times than not, taking on too much does more harm that good.
All in all, there’s no set-in-stone formula for how to succeed at event planning. Every event is different. And every person is different. But following these five things can certainly help you along your way! Any other ideas? Comment them below if so.
Copyright to https://www.speednetworking.com
Questions That You Should Ask Your Conference Venue Before You Book Them
Over the past couple of posts, we’ve been focusing on giving you the necessary information you’ll need to book a conference venue that will be perfect for your event. In this post, we’ll look at some of the more important features you must look out for when choosing a venue space.
Meeting your requirements
On average, a conference venue will be able to provide you with a room to host all your attendees, but you must be sure that they can cater to any unique requirements of the event as well. For example, if you’re hosting an event that requires brainstorming sessions done by smaller groups (a common corporate breakaway event), you will have to ensure that the venue will be able to provide breakaway rooms or similar areas where attendants will still have access to the venue’s amenities.
A good first step would be to look at your event’s programme and identify any specific needs that your venue would have to address.
A location that contributes to your objectives
Often, hosting your event at a venue that is still in the same city as your attendees can impact on how much they get from the event. Instead of letting them experience the hustle and bustle of getting to a city-bound venue, think about a more tranquil setting where everyone can relax and easily take in the information you must share. Even if your venue of choice is just outside the city centre, it will already make a big difference.
Services that will enhance the event
Be sure to find out what specific services you will require from your venue before you book it. For example, if you’re going to serve lunch, will the venue be able to provide you with a menu, and will they be able to cater to any specific dietary requirements like Halaal or vegetarian diets, to name a few.
Some event coordinators often let their event budget run away with them, which is why when you’re busy setting up your event you should get a detailed quote from your venue of choice. This will help ensure that you will be able to plan accordingly, ultimately contributing to your venue being a great success.
Copyright to https://langhams.co.za
Hosting a Conference: Uncovering hidden venue costs
With all the hidden extras associated with venue costs, calculating the real price in advance isn’t easy. But one association is managing to do just this.
Venue costs and catering make up the lion’s share of the typical conference budget. But, as every planner knows, the true cost of using a venue can sometimes feel like it’s worlds away from the price listed in the bid.
From meeting delegates’ increasingly varied dietary requests, to covering fees for utilities like water and waste, there are whole categories of venue costs that can feel frustratingly hard to pin down. And, because these hidden costs can vary – sometimes substantially – from one venue to the next, this makes it tricky to draw true comparisons between the venues on your conference shortlist.
“When it comes to comparing venues, you’re trying to compare apples and pears,” says Holger Omlor, head of events at the European Association for International Education (EAIE). Before joining the association, Holger spent a decade as a professional conference organiser, where one returning task of his was comparing local venue costs.
“When you get to know the venues, you know that this venue is making their money off the rentals, that venue is making their money off the AV, there it’s the rentals, and so on… There aren’t huge surprises.”
But when you don’t have the advantage of detailed knowledge about each venue, it’s a different kettle of fish.
RFPs and squeezed margins
EAIE’s Annual Conference & Exhibition takes place in a different European destination each year, which means Holger and his team were grappling with shortlists full of unfamiliar venues.
While standard venue request for proposals (RFPs) are pretty detailed, they don’t necessarily help you smoke out all the extra costs associated with using each venue. And EAIE was getting stung. “We’d put out an RFP and venues come back with bids and we say ‘that looks ok’,” says Holger. “And then we’d go there and get all the extra catering and cleaning costs, all that stuff.”
Venue-related costs like electricity, water charges and furniture rental can be sizeable additions to your conference bill. But even when the cost is one you’re anticipating – like staffing – the variance between the added extras in one venue and the next can be a nasty surprise. Something as simple as how many exits a building has, for example, can make a sizeable difference.
”Let’s say the cleaner for the toilets is included and you have 20 toilets, and the other venue has 40 toilets and it’s not included. That’s typically not a cost that comes up beforehand,” says Holger. “Security is the same. Some venues include the cost estimate in the bid and some don’t say anything about it. They say ‘Oh, basic security is included.’ And you have to ask ‘What is basic security?’ ‘Oh, that depends on your logistics…’
In some venues, you might need 10 security guards, in others, 15. That’s a substantial additional staffing cost you wouldn’t necessarily see when comparing the list of bids responding to an RFP.
And comparing the true cost of venues is vital to the association. EAIE’s conference runs over 4 days serving around 6000 participants. As conferences scale, the pool of suitable venues shrinks. And with a big exhibition and a content programme that sees as many as 18 sessions running in parallel, this is an event in the top 1% of the largest conferences in Europe. All those factors together can lead to quite some pressure on the margins.
“We are playing in the champion’s league: we’re competing with medical and pharma association conferences,” says Holger. And competing with well-funded meetings for bigger venues in tier 1 and 2 cities means much higher venue costs.
‘This is what my conference looks like, give me an estimate’
So EAIE did a lot of work on its venue bidding process to get a clearer picture of what’s included in upfront venue costs, and what’s an added extra. Instead of trying to extrapolate from venues’ bids or from previous conferences, Holger created a forensically detailed pricing sheet that puts the onus on the venues themselves to draw out the extra costs well in advance.
What cleaning is included? Is that basic only? If I rent a carpet, will I need to pay extra to clean it? What’s the estimate for staffing for a conference with a setup like X? Asking questions like these results in a much clearer picture of what the final bill for each event is going to be.
“The funny thing is, when we have that discussion in the bidding phase, venues realise we are thinking about this stuff,” says Holger. “I tell them explicitly, ‘If there’s anything missing in this pricing sheet, tell me.’ Then if you put it out there, all kind of stuff comes up. It’s often not even that they keep the cost out because they want to have a competitive bid. Sometimes they forget about hidden venue costs as well. ”
“Because they also don’t want to have that discussion later, where I say, ‘Hey, wait a second, your bid was A and now I have 2 x A on my tab.’ They see I need to understand what their pricing looks like, otherwise I’m going to have a very annoying conversation with my director.”
Having this means that the association can make more informed decisions when whittling down their shortlist.
When your event doesn’t have the luxury of wide margins, unexpected extras in venue costs can mean the difference between success and failure.
The income from EAIE’s annual conference accounts for a large chunk of the association’s budget. It doesn’t only pay staff salaries but it’s also used to fund the member magazine and other nonprofit activities. In the competitive events market out there, you can’t afford to be leaving money on the table.
As Holger puts it: “Association conferences are not for profit, but they’re also not for loss.”
Copyright to www.exordo.com
Using Social Media Walls for Events Is the Next Big Thing
How do you define an event as a successful one?
Maybe it's a high attendance rate. Maybe it's social media streams that are filled with your event updates and check-ins. Maybe it's knowing that your attendees are actually engaging in the event activities and enjoying themselves, as evident by their selfies and fruitful discussions. Maybe it's all that and more.
It sounds like an event organizer’s dream, doesn't it?
Well, what if we told you we have a magic tool to make that happen all at once?
Slow down! Hold back your dreamy horses. It’s actually true.
There is a social media tool that can make all this happen, and more.
It’s called a Social Media Wall.
Ring any bells?
You must have seen these very frequently at events, concerts, conferences, weddings, graduations, trade shows, networking mixers or any other event types.
So, in this article, we will discuss why social media walls are so great to use for your next event.
What Is a Social Media Wall?
A social media wall is digital display screen which shows a running stream of live social media feeds which are aggregated from multiple social media channels.
So, the whole process goes like this-
Discover- Social media content which resonates with the theme of the event is discovered from multiple channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and others via hashtags, mentions, locations, username, etc. with the help of a social media aggregator.
Aggregate- Social media aggregators after discovering the apt user-generated content aggregates them all at one place where they can be managed accordingly.
Curate- After aggregating the social media content, you can curate it so as to filter out the irrelevant content and prevent it from getting displayed. This helps to maintain the quality of the content.
Customize- Once you have curated your content, it’s time to prep it up for displaying on a social wall at events. There are many beautiful themes and layout options help you to beautify the social media content and make them attractive for displays.
Display- Now that everything is done and your social media feeds are all dolled up for display on social wall, just power up your social media wall with your social feeds and engage with your audience.
Why Should You Use a Social Media Wall for Your Events?
A social media wall comes with amazing benefits if employed for an event.
All the amazing scenarios of a marketer’s dream discussed above are actually brought to life with social media walls.
First and foremost, social media walls enhance audience engagement. They enchant the crowd at any event with it’s amazing display and social content.
When people see that their fellow attendees are getting featured on the social wall by posting about it on social media, then even they are compelled to do so in the desire of getting featured on the sparkly wall.
Social media walls are like the cool tech at display to which everyone is attracted to at first sight. This also helps to increase the event ROI. This is why sponsors also love using social media walls for events.
Second, social media walls are the best way to display user-generated content in an engaging and interactive manner. They come with various beautiful themes, as well as features like banners and tickers, advanced CSS options and so much more to present the user-generated content in an effective and engaging way.
Third, social media walls are the best way to spread word-of-mouth marketing. By employing social media walls, you get the power to generate a social buzz about your event on social media. And not just when it is happening in real-time, but prior to the event and even after the event is finished. The social media buzz continues. This helps you to expand your audience base even beyond your target audience. You may employ event-specific hashtags for that.
Fourth, social media walls fit everywhere and anywhere. These are very responsive in designs, hence they suit to the needs of all and every marketer and event organizer adjusting to all kinds of venues and event types. They can display social content on screens of any size and shape.
Last but not the least, social media walls are the best way to showcase social proof and build brand credibility. It expands your audience base beyond your target audience by reaching the circle's of your followers. It helps to grow social influence of your brand.
So, what are you waiting for?
Go and grab the golden opportunity to employ a social media wall for your upcoming events and make wonders happen for you.
Copyright to speednetworking.com
Plan a Successful Conference Panel Discussion with this Great Guide
Most people are immediately bored the minute they hear the word ‘conference’. What could be the cause of this? The same old 5-hour long PowerPoint presentation splattered with default fonts, and then there is the odd break for defrosted finger foods in a room full of bland furniture. It sounds like an underwhelming nightmare.
We compiled this brief guide on the do’s and don’ts of hosting a conference panel discussion successfully. Use it, don’t use it (no, really, use it!) – just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
What to Do:
- Manage time well – people don’t want to feel like they’re trapped in an hours-long talk. The number of key speakers must be less than 5, with about 5 minutes to present each. This allows for enough Q&A time while the audience still has some concentration.
- Ensure the moderator and panelists have prepared well in advance – Confirm that your key speakers are fully aware of your expectations. Do follow-ups least twice prior to the event.
- Keep everyone on the same page – communicate all the necessary details. Host a conference call or lunch meeting to discuss progress and create familiarity.
- Organise an out-of-the-box setup – be creative about how you prepare the room. Make it engaging and exciting for attendees and speakers.
- Find a suitable moderator for the specific topic – this person must lead the conversation without taking over and engage the audience for Q&A purposes. They must be knowledgeable, current and lively.
What Not to Do
- Don’t invite predictable speakers – be creative with your panelists. Consider journalists, academics and small business owners who’ve engaged the topic before.
- Don’t over-prepare – this could dilute the authenticity of the conference panel discussion. Allow it to unfold organically.
- Don’t use a single handheld mic – leave “passing the mic” to battling rappers. Rather use body mics to enable free movement and a seamless flow in the discussion.
- Don’t pinch on question time – leave enough time for questions at the end. Therefore, preparation and time management are important.
- Don’t do slideshows – they take away from the whole point of a discussion. You need the audience to engage what is said by the panelists and moderator.
Conference Planning Checklist: How to Stay On Target + On Time
18 months out from the event:
No matter what industry you work in, it usually takes at very least a year to plan an event. And the sooner you get started the better, so we really recommend starting a year and a half in advance. When you’re 18 months out, here’s what you need to do:
Determine the event objective/theme: The first step in planning any event is determining your objective and how you're going to incorporate an event theme into that objective.
Decide on a date: Next, you'll want to decide on a date. Do a little bit of research to see when competitor organizations are holding their event, and whatever you do, don’t pick those dates.
Pick a city: We don’t want to be captain obvious, but picking a city that has a special draw, whether it’s warm weather, outdoor attractions, or a bustling nightlife, can greatly impact attendee numbers. Here are the top 10 cities to host a conference or event in 2019.
Secure a convention center/event space: Once you’ve decided on a city, it’s time to start looking for a convention center or event space. It's also never a bad idea to conduct a site visit. Think about how many people you're expecting to attend and ensure that you'll have a large enough exhibit hall and ample meeting room space.
Finalize an event budget: Finalizing an event budget early helps give you an understanding of what types of sessions, speakers, and technology you'll be able to include in your conference programming. Once you finalize an overall event budget, create benchmarks for different categories and check in periodically as you continue to plan your event. Here's a 7 step process to simplify and prioritize an event budget.
Decide on ticket price: Ticket price is a huge factor in how many people register for your event. Do some research to see what similar organizations are charging. Determine how much you need to charge based on what you want overall revenue to be. It should be enough to make a substantial profit but not so much that it turns too many people away.
Solicit sponsorship: Sponsorship is an incredibly important piece of the event planning process, so start your reach out efforts early. Put together a sponsorship sheet that illustrates the benefits of each level.
Hotel reservations: Once you've secured your convention center or event space, start looking for nearby hotels and make room reservation blocks. The closer your hotel is to the convention space, the better. Usually, you can get some sort of deal for reserving so many rooms.
RFPS/Contracts/Deposits: Ahh, yes. Collecting RFPS. Reviewing never-ending contracts. Making deposit after deposit. While this part of event planning isn't always the most fun, it is necessary. Don't forget to focus on these in the early stages of your planning process. It'll make things that much easier down the road.
Marketing plan: You can't plan a conference without creating a marketing plan. Include your outreach strategy, how and where you're going to advertise, which platforms you're going to use, and who your target audience is. How are you going to reach people who have attended previously and encourage them to come again? And how are you going to branch out and build awareness to people who haven't?
Save the date: Send out a save the date email to your entire email list! This way, they can block it off on their calendar and let their employers know early that they're interested in attending. It's also a great way to create some initial excitement around your conference or event.
Agenda and session rough draft: Research speakers, brainstorm sessions, and think strategically about what kind of education offerings and breakout sessions you want to offer. Do they align with your overall event goals? Are they within budget? After your rough draft is put together, start reaching out to the appropriate people/organizations. Many times event speakers are booked way in advance, so the sooner you get on this, the better.
12 months out from the event:
Build your website: Your event website is extremely important. Oftentimes, it's the first impression potential event goers get. The site should be easy to navigate, with an eye-catching design. The last thing you want is an outdated look. This is your chance to create excitement and encourage attendance. Oh, and it needs to be responsive, meaning it needs to be mobile friendly.
Configure your event app: If you're using an event app, now is the time to start getting things set up. Ensure it offers a user-friendly experience. Even apps should never make thing more complicated – in fact, they should do the opposite and make things easier for your attendees. Here are some top event apps & software to consider.
Book speakers and collection bios: By now you should have reached out to potential speakers to gather information about their rates and typical speeches. Decide which people (or person) aligns most with your event theme and budget. After you've finalized this, collect a bio and photo to include on your event website. SpeakerHub is a great way to secure top industry speakers.
Finalize programming and put together event schedule: Speakers aren't the only thing to check off the list at 8-12 months out. By now you should be working to finalize your programming so that you can put together a comprehensive event schedule. Once finalized, publish to the website. People want to know what types of opportunities they're going to have from attending.
Whether potential attendees are interested in the star speakers, next level networking opportunities, or unique educational sessions, giving them as much information ahead of time is sure to increase their likelihood in actually registering.
Implement your marketing strategy: As awesome as your website or event programming might be, you won't hit the ticket sales you want to without marketing. Take advantage of all the platforms.
Consider offering an early bird registration discount: Early bird registration discounts are a great way to create excitement and boost attendance numbers early. They create a sense of urgency that says "I need to register for this now."
Decide what kind of event security you'll need: Security is becoming increasingly important in today's event world. From large crowds to data protection, security is something you'll need to discuss with your team. And it's always better safe than sorry, so err on the side of overly cautious.
Check-in on your budget benchmarks: How are you doing on your budget? Are you hitting your benchmarks? What categories have you gone over budget on? Are you under budget anywhere? Adjust as needed to stay within your total event budget.
6 months out from the event:
Finalize any catering needs: Events are about much more than just the sessions. Every detail matters, especially food. Finalize what types of food you want to serve and gather estimates. You could even do a taste test.
Rent AV equipment: When you're six months out, you'll want to put in rental requests for AV equipment. Do some research and see which company best fits your needs. We recommend checking out Endless Events.
Send out reminders to attendees, speakers, sponsors, and vendors: Keeping in consistent contact with each of these groups helps keep everyone informed. Keep your attendees posted on any schedule changes or additions, ensure your speakers and sponsors know what's going on, and work with your vendors to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to help make your event a success.
Continue to market, market, market: We can't emphasize this enough. High attendance rates come down to one thing: how well did you market your event? In today's world, there are so many ways to raise awareness.
3 months out from the event:
Collect any presentation submissions: The event is quickly approaching and it's time to collect any and all presentation submissions. Review them carefully, checking to make sure each contains relevant, valuable information.
Order conference materials: This includes any lanyards, badges, conference bags, or any other SWAG items you're planning to give out to attendees. 4imprint is a great company for all SWAG items.
Order any print signage or posters: Signage and event posters help direct conference-goers. Order these at least three months out because printing, as simple as it may seem, takes time. And if any information is incorrect, you'll have time to reprint without having to worry if it will be finished in time.
Week of the event:
Deliver signage and materials: Once you're a week out, start delivering any signage and materials so that you can easily set things up the day before or the morning of. Be careful with these materials – the last thing you want is to damage or break them.
Provide final numbers to your caterer: By now you should be able to give your caterer a final headcount. Try to be as accurate as possible so as to not waste food or drink.
Check technology and equipment: When it comes to technology, there's so much that can go wrong. Test everything out ahead of time and familiarize yourself with how everything works and how you may need to troubleshoot should something go wrong.
Backup all presentation materials: If all you have is one thumb drive, that is not enough. We repeat. That is not enough. Back up everything. Your presentation materials should be able to be accessed in multiple ways by multiple people.
Check AV arrangements: Again, ensure everything is working properly and contact your AV company if it isn't.
Send welcome/what to expect email: Send out an email to all of your attendees! Get them excited. Let them know what to expect and what they're going to take away from attending. How will this event make them a better professional? What new knowledge or skills are they going to be leaving with?
Conference Planning Checklist: During the Event
The first day of the event:
Set up registration desk: Get there early and set your event registration desk up. Event check-in can quickly become a stressful situation if your table isn't well-organized. Think about how you want your attendees to flow and what's going to get them through the quickest. Organize any badges or name tags alphabetically and make sure the table is appropriately staffed. Attendees are going to have a lot of questions about where to go and what to do. Ensure you have enough people to help with registration and help with directions and expectations.
Brief staff: We can't stress enough how important it is for you to brief your staff ahead of time. Go over any last-minute changes and touch on any important parts everyone should know. It'll help you and your volunteers/event workers feel much more at ease.
During the event:
Try to enjoy yourself: We know this is easier said than done, but you put a lot of hard work in. Try to take some time to sit back and enjoy it. Understand that at this point, you just have to give up some control and let things happen as they happen.
The last day of the event:
Collect conference feedback: Collecting conference feedback is incredibly important. The more attendee data you can get, the better. Don't wait to do it after the event. Do it during it, when it's still fresh in their minds.
Conference Planning Checklist: After the Event
The day after the event:
Rest: The day after the event should be dedicated to rest. Seriously, this is important. You put in months of hard work, long hours, and late nights and you were probably running around the whole week of the event. Let yourself recover from the hustle and bustle.
One week after the event:
Sent thank you letters: Send out personalized thank you letters to your speakers, sponsors, and vendors. This isn't just common courtesy – it's a great way to build industry partnerships and help you secure the same organizations for the next year. Email is great, but handwritten is even better.
Post-conference feedback meeting with the team: Once you've all had a chance to breathe, set up a meeting with the team. Talk about what went well and what didn't. Take notes of things you want to remember for next year. And let your employees know how much they're valued and supported. Like we said, planning events is stressful, for everyone involved. Showing appreciation makes it all worth it.
Do you have any other items you add to your conference planning checklist? Everyone has their own process, and we're always open to hearing what you have to say. What's helped you stay organized? Do you follow a different timeline of events? Let us know what's worked and what hasn't.
And, if you're interested in exploring session ideas, allow us to introduce to you the ideas of speed networking. Speed networking is one of the fastest growing forms of networking in the world. Our company, SpeedNetworking.com, takes the traditional value of face-to-face meetings and combines it with matchmaking technology to ensure each attendee can pre-select the types of people they're interested in meeting. Through predictive analytics, we can ensure the highest quality of connections for each person.
Let us know if you'd like to learn more. Our program is completely customizable based on your unique event needs.
Copyright to speednetworking.com
Too Many Event Planners Aren’t Thinking About Cyber Security. Here’s Why They Should Be.
Every year event planning takes a giant step forward in how events are organized and what they offer. Our post on the 5 Noteworthy New Event Tech Trends of 2019 showed how technology is now a huge part of pulling off a successful event. This ranges from attendee tracking and facial recognition technology, to clever flooring that collects floor traffic data.
Each of these innovations adds to the experience of attending an event, but more technology also open the door to cyber-attacks. And as events become more and more digitally focused, the risk of data and files being stolen increases. But event planners aren't thinking about the threat of cyber security enough. Here's why they should be.
Tackling cybercrime has become one of the top priorities for companies in the 21st century. The 2017-18 EY Global Information Security Survey found that 87% of companies believe they require up to 50% more budget for cyber security. The demand for industry experts is increasing every year as companies look to increase their security profile, as is the importance of cyber security experts being an integral part of most companies.
Corporations aren't the only ones focused on upping their cyber security. Maryville University details how the International Data Corporation believes that going forward: “75% of chief security officers and chief information security officers will report directly to the CEO, not the CIO.” This rising demand for specialists is being reflected in universities across the country with national competitions on cyber security.
In fact, the University of Kansas recently won a cyber security competition set up by the United States Department of Energy. This shows how seriously the government is taking the increasing threat of cyber attacks, and why event planners must also take the threat seriously.
Events or conferences may seem like an unlikely target for a cyber attack, but the amount of information and data on attendees makes it attractive for hackers. Corporate events will often feature multiple companies using the lasted connected technology to attract customers and future partners. If their devices are connected to the internet, they could be using a network that maybe isn’t as secure as their normal company network.
Those who open documents on their devices could unwittingly open themselves up for a data breach. This is why event cyber security expert Gijs Verbeek told Cit Magazine that that agencies, corporations, and venues have a responsibility to make cyber security a priority: "It doesn’t just fall to venues. Event planners should be hiring experts and taking further measures to protect themselves and their clients."
There are many ways hackers can access data on laptops and other devices. Computer Weekly explain how phishing is a common route into a laptop. This is where a hacker sends a fake email supposedly from a well known business or even the company that the laptop owner works for.
If the email is accepted as real and a link is clicked, an attachment is downloaded, or sensitive information is entered, the hacker will have access to the laptop and the network it is connected too. At a networking event where the goal is to collect email addresses in order to start networking, a hacker could potentially hide a phishing email within the numerous legitimate emails.
Another danger is physical security threats with hackers inserting a device into a company laptop. Tech Rader outlines how even modern laptops using USB-C ports are not safe, as hackers can alter the charger to hijack the computer. As the laptop would charge as normal, the user wouldn’t notice that it is allowing a hacker access to the device. A large event, with a large crowd would make such a swap much easier. And with event managers holding lots of sensitive information and files on attendees, they could easily become targets, especially if they are not keeping a close eye on their laptop.
If an event is hacked, the event organizer could be liable for any data stolen, especially if they set up the network that the attendees used. Marianne Bonner, in her article The Dangers of Cyber Attacks shares how small businesses are often most at risk from cyber attacks. This is because they often don’t have the robust cyber defenses of larger corporations. She notes how any data breach could easily lead to privacy lawsuits. With so much attendee information being held and transferred at an event, a serious breach could lead to multiple lawsuits.
As you can see, it's absolutely vital for event planners to have a good cyber security plan in place. Hackers are always looking for an easy entry point to access sensitive and valuable data, and events have the potential to offer them outlets into multiple organizations. This is why event planners need to get serious about cyber security, particularly since events are becoming more digitally driven with evolving technology like AI.
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