How to evaluate an event

23 05 2012

You’ve just received an invitation to speak at an event. You’re flattered and start to imagine yourself presenting to a rapt audience of hundreds who cheer wildly when you’ve finished. 

But what about the event? is it any good? Unless you know the event already, you might not know and could end up presenting to four people in some backwater community hall.

The producer that sent the invite sure thinks so but then they would wouldn’t they? Before you invest the time and energy into preparing for a speaking slot (and money – you will likely have to pay for travel and accommodation), it’s worthwhile to do some due diligence on the event to see if it will meet your expectations or be a complete waste of time. 

OK, so how do I do that? 

There are some key indicators you can use to evaluate the worth of an event:

1. Delegate profile – if the producer hasn’t included this in the invite details, ask for it. Better still, ask for a copy of last year’s delegate list to see exactly who turned up last year – this is the best way to determine who you are likely to meet. Who attends is probably the most important piece of information you can get – there’s no point in going to an event if the people you want to meet aren’t there. 

2. Confirmed speaker list – who else is confirmed (not just invited) to speak? Who spoke last year? Are the other speakers above or below your level? Senior speakers from well-known and respected companies is a good indicator that it will be a decent event. 

3. Sponsors – if well-known and respected companies are sponsoring the event, then this is also a good indicator that it will be a decent event. Companies will not spend that much marketing budget on something they don’t think will be a success – they would have done their own due diligence before sponsoring. 

4. Press and media – if well-known and respected press or broadcast media publications have partnered with the event, then this is also a good indicator that it will be a decent event and a clue that there will be decent media coverage about the event. 

5. Sophistication of event website – if it looks like something from 1995 or that your 5-year-old made, not a good sign. Any conference organiser that is serious about their events will have a decent looking website with useful information. 

6. Location – is the event located at a decent hotel in a city or a school in some regional outpost? Are people likely to travel from far and wide to attend it? I’ll let you decide what the correct answer is.

7. Organiser – are they a well-respected event organiser? What other events have they produced and are they successful? 

8. First time event – is this an inaugural event? If so then there is much more risk involved – see another of our posts for more info on inaugural events. For all the claims of the organiser, they can’t guarantee that anyone will turn up. That’s why information from last year’s event is the best indicator for the success of the current year’s event. 

At the end of the day it’s mainly about common sense. If you get satisfactory answers to most of the indicators listed above, then chances are it will be OK. And if you don’t have the time to look through all this information, have a trusted specialist event consultant help out – they will be able to do this for you quite easily. 





Looking back at the hot conference topics in 2011

13 12 2011

At the start of the year, we made some predictions about the topics that were likely to dominate the conference landscape in 2011 and, as is now traditional, we want to take a moment to reflect on the year. You may remember that in our original post(hyperlink) we thought the hot topics in 2011 would be:

Many of our suggestions were right on the money – a number of these topics have been growing for years now and are almost sure to continue to be important going forward. However, we also missed a few runaway trends (like Big Data), so want to spend the next few posts looking back, analysing the hot topics and providing insight on the conference industry in 2011.

We’ll also be making our predictions for 2012 in the next few weeks, so don’t forget to check back regularly!





Our thoughts on IP Expo

4 11 2011
On the 20th October, we attended the 2011 edition of IP Expo, one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing IT infrastructure events, where some of the biggest names in IT converge annually.One of the biggest attractions of the day was the Google Apps Lab, which demonstrated to visitors how Google Apps helps teams to increase their productivity using real-time collaboration.A multitude of significant players from the IT sector attended, including Neil Crockett from Cisco and David King, CTO of Logica – but the most buzz surrounded one particular speaker: the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, and with the huge media focus and expression of public sadness surrounding Steve Jobs’ recent death, his presence was greatly anticipated.

Wozniak delivered a keynote in which he spoke about his early days at Apple, taking risks in technology, and Fusion-io, his latest gig. However, when delivered, Wozniak’s presentation came off sounding disappointingly like a sales pitch, rather than the inspirational speech that many were expecting. As we have pointed out several times over the last few years, its never a good idea to use a speaking opportunity as a platform for a sales pitch.





Kinect hack for clear presentations

1 11 2011

We stumbled across the ingenious Kinect hack today and just had to share it.

Unless you have the pleasure of presenting at CES or another gala event where the screen can be measured in kilometres rather than feet, getting your positioning right can be a nightmare. Technology like this helps you focus on the presentation itself, rather than where you’re standing and also frees you up to cross the stage to answer questions and engage with the audience.

However, you’ll still need to brush up your presentation skills and make sure your slides are engaging if you want to deliver a truly successful presentation!





Wired 2011 1st day roundup

14 10 2011

We’re sure you’re already aware that Wired’s inaugural conference in the UK is taking place right now. But if, like us, you didn’t manage to bag a ticket, you can follow the action online – Wired’s posted the following video of the highlights from day 1 and many of the sessions are already written up posted here.

It’s great to see these brilliant events, highlighting innovation, but it can sometimes be difficult to see where the business benefit lies with these more ‘inspirational’ events. Of course Wired gets around this by being a very widely read magazine, with broad reach and influence in the business world, but it’s always worth keeping in the back of your mind the reason why you’re running your speaking programme in the first place (be it to increase sales, profile an exec or something entirely different).

 

UPDATED – day 2 here:





IBC Congress – business stream session wrap-up

13 09 2011

I’m pleased to say that our session at IBC last week was a great success with the room at near full capacity and more questions from the floor than we had time for – always a good sign!

Our Co-Founder, Giles Fraser, set the scene by introducing the speakers and talking briefly about the increasing use of social media by content brands, followed by Claire Tavernier from Fremantle who gave a great opening presentation which included her five rules for integrating social media into television.

This was followed by the panel discussion which delved into what each of the panellists were doing with their companies and looking at issues such as risk, investment, control and what the future holds.

A recap of the key points of the session are covered concisely by Giles Fraser in this short video.

Thanks to all my speakers and all that attended – hope to see you next year!





IBC Congress 2011

5 09 2011

I have the privilege again this year of producing a session for the business stream at the IBC Conference in Amsterdam this week.

It takes place on the Thursday the 8th of September from 13.30 – 15.00 and is titled: Extending the Value of Branded Content Through Social Media and Online Engagement.  It will be in room E102.

We have a great session lined up today, starting with Chairman Giles Fraser, Co-Founder of Brands2Life who will be setting the scene and highlighting relevant trends, followed by Claire Tavernier from Fremantle Media who will be talking about using social media to drive audiences and engagement. Rounding out the session will be what we hope to be a very spirited panel discussion with our guest panellists: Danny McCubbin of JamieOliver.com, Claire Tavernier of Fremantle, Jurian Van Der Meer of Endemol and Steve Plunkett of RedBee Media about. In addition to outlining their thoughts/experiences on how social media and online engagement can extend brand value, the panel will be tackling questions such as:

  • What are the risks to brands – both content and parent brand?
  • How much should you invest in social media/online engagement and when can you expect payback? Is there payback?
  • What mistakes have been made?
  • How do you maintain your brand voice and values through digital channels
  • Dangers or risks of social media and giving your audience a voice
  • The difference between using existing social media venues and building your own

If you’ll be at IBC this week, please stop by and participate in what we are confident will be a great session!