Events should be a win-win for attendees, since they offer a change of scenery, generate news, and provide learning, entertainment and networking opportunities. Since more media brands now offer live programs, the events arena has become more competitive.
Event strategy and objectives remain top priorities, but key logistics shouldn’t be overlooked. We cover a range of events, and here’s our take from an attendee perspective. Some may seem obvious, but since we’ve experienced these faux pas recently, a refresher seems to be in order.
1. Panel moderators should be discussion enablers, not conversation hijackers. The moderator needs to hold his/her own, but events should be more about the panelists.
2. Skip reading long speaker bios on stage, and leave the details to the event website or handouts. Given short audience attention spans, first impressions count the most.
3. Set a limit of 4 panelists, since you’re not aiming for a Guinness World Record. There are reasons why TV shows only have up to 4 guests at a time: screen space and storytelling.
4. Provide detailed schedules, even for two-hour events and receptions. That’s especially useful in the early morning and evening when attendees scramble to arrive on time.
5. Stick as closely as possible to the promoted agenda, with some room for impromptu moments. But don’t have scripted plants in the audience, as happened recently.
6. Focus more on recent vs. past news events to keep the content timely and to create buzz. A media panel now should discuss CBS’ Benghazi story, not the Boston Marathon.
7. Be clear in advance if some event speakers and content are off the record or by Chatham House Rule. Most attendees these days want to share event quotes and news.
8. Only make attendee lists available to event sponsors with attendees’ prior approval. It’s not a mystery if they receive spam emails from event sponsors a few days later.
9. Fresh air rules, not scented air, unless it’s a perfume launch. Scents may be ok for spas or retailers, but not for pre-paid events since they can trigger headaches and allergies.
10. Working Wi-Fi is essential, unless all the event logistics above are mishandled. In that case, no Wi-Fi would be beneficial, so attendees won’t be able to complain in real-time.