“An event is an experience, carefully crafted to deliver an impact on the person in attendance. The activities, environment, and layers of multisensory effects are integrated into an event design that is staged and choreographed with precision and polish.” — Julia Rutherford Silvers, Professional Event Coordination, 2nd Edition
Too many organizations think that once the event is over, the potential to engage your attendees has ended. As Ms. Silvers suggests, a well-crafted event is a holistic experience. The most effective events stay with participants long after they’ve gone home.
Organizations aim to extract as much meaning as possible from each event, especially when they have spent months putting together the sequence of a single day, creating agendas, curating speaker panels, and so forth. But exhaustion sets in, or the next event is right around the corner, and the follow-up gets lost. Many organizations resort to a simple summary handout and a quick “how’d we do?” survey. This is a waste of the valuable insights and connections that emerge from every interaction between stakeholders.
It’s akin to the circus coming to town. The fanfare of the big tent envelops you, treating you to elephants wearing headdresses and tiny cars filled with clowns. Your mind is utterly blown, and you vow to remember every detail. But the next day the circus is gone; except for a faint imprint on the grass, you can hardly tell it was there in the first place. Two weeks later, you’ve forgotten the name of your favorite elephant.
Your organization’s goal, beyond staging an event that stakeholders attend and enjoy, is to capture and retain their attention. You want to keep them talking, keep them networking, keep them coming to your events because they consistently get something useful out of it.
In my experience, these sorts of events present you with an unrivaled opportunity to gather the pieces of wisdom—the revolutionary suggestions, the organic moments of realization, the moments of unadulterated, life-changing genius—and shape them into something that continues the conversation. These can take different forms for different audiences; content could include an edited transcript of the most fascinating panel discussions, a white paper bridging the disparate ideologies of thought leaders, or highlight videos that capture an event’s best moments in an easily digestible package.
Whatever the content is, it should go beyond a simple report of the day’s events. Remind your attendees of the moments that blew their mind. Offer new thoughts to extend the discussion. And make attendance at your next event a foregone conclusion.