07 Feb 2024

Think’s step-by-step guide to event success

Live events are making a triumphant return, rapidly reaching pre-2020 levels of engagement. The outlook for 2024, according to Eventbrite’s Event Trends Report, appears robust, with a majority expressing their eagerness to attend more events this year. 

What sets the stage for intrigue is the heightened interest among younger demographics in non-virtual events. A remarkable 61% of Gen Y and 63% of Gen Z are gearing up for increased event participation in 2023, outpacing their Gen X counterparts at 52%.

In the world of events, success is not a stroke of luck but the result of meticulous planning and execution. As Benjamin Franklin aptly noted, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

To help with this, we have devised a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you craft an exceptional live event:

  1. Relevance is crucial: Ensure that the content, speakers, agenda and overall theme align with the interests and needs of your members. Conduct surveys or focus groups in advance to understand their top-of-mind topics and pain points, so that the event resonates with its audience.
  2. Variety keeps things interesting: Incorporate different session formats to maintain engagement. From keynote speeches and panels to small group discussions and workshops, a diverse format keeps attendees involved. Limiting the size of breakout sessions adds exclusivity and ensures high-quality learning.
  3. Sustainability matters: Communicate the measures taken to reduce the event’s carbon footprint, as sustainability is a growing concern among attendees.
  4. Quality over quantity: Opt for a select few high-profile speakers offering substantial insights over a long list of average presenters. Thought leaders with cutting-edge insights leave a lasting impact.
  5. EDI focus: Prioritise equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) when selecting voices and stories for your event. A diverse range of contributors creates richer content and reflects the profession’s diversity.
  6. Interactivity is a must: Encourage Q&A sessions, polls, group discussions and gamification to foster collaboration and active participation. Ensure that panels are engaging and always include a Q&A session. 
  7. Personalisation feels special: Tailor parts of the event to cater specifically to your members. Recognise their achievements, provide discussion forums and create mentoring opportunities to enhance networking around shared interests.
  8. Surprises generate buzz: Introduce unexpected elements that spark conversation and social media sharing. Unannounced VIP guests, insider sneak peeks, or prizes aligning with your event brand create excitement. 
  9. Seamless logistics remove headaches: Polish every behind-the-scenes detail, from registration to tech, food and beverages. Use technology solutions for registration, badging, lead capture, gamification, and more, to streamline event organisation.
  10. Comfort breeds enjoyment: Consider seating, acoustics, lighting, temperature and accessibility from an attendee’s perspective. Comfortable settings allow attendees to focus on content and connections, fostering a positive networking environment. 
  11. Post-event follow-up sustains impact: Send timely surveys to capture feedback, and share presentations and recordings. Use positive testimonials and provide channels for networking to prolong the impact of the event.

By focusing on these elements, associations and professional groups can design events that resonate powerfully with members. The result is increased engagement, loyalty and return on investment in the professional relationships that matter most. With thoughtful planning and clear objectives, member events can deliver tangible value for all involved.

If you’d like to be kept up to date with Think’s regular membership insights, receive exclusive invitations to their best-practice webinar series and uncover trending themes from the industry-leading Re:member research, please sign up to their newsletter.

To find out more about how Think can help transform your member communications/events, please contact Hannah Sarsfield at [email protected].