YESTERDAY, I shared an example of a multinational company that had a poorly executed conference for 300 delegates.
Today, you will gain ideas to enhance the learning experience and fun factor for your next conference, event, meeting, tradeshow or exposition.
Having been involved with nearly 2,000 company functions and events in South-east Asia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and North America, I find it a thrill to work with talented teams and audiences in venues and hotels around the world.
Like the famous cowboy movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood, I have been to conferences and meetings where the event experience could have easily been described by this movie title.
Here are 10 tips to boost your events and get a standing ovation from your audience:
1. Start on time
The best way to improve any event is to start on the scheduled programme or agenda time. A big mistake for novice emcees or hosts is to wait for all the people to arrive.
Waiting discourages those who have arrived early and gives the idea that being late is tolerated at the expense of others who are prompt.
Start without the latecomers!
2. Encourage chatting
If for any reason an event must be delayed, have the host or emcee encourage the group to chat or network to lift the energy in the ballroom or venue meeting area.
3. Theme music
Playing theme music at the start of a session as delegates walk into a venue, ballroom or breakout session is fundamental to the mood.
Like sitting in a movie theatre waiting for the movie to start, background music provides a calming influence and enhances the event experience.
The role of the emcee or host is not to be the speaker or entertainer.
It is to pace the event and to make sure the event runs smoothly while giving introductions and thank you’s that support the speaker or the expertise of the person who will be presenting. Introductions beyond 90 seconds are rare.
5. Time cards
One of the biggest mistakes managers or novice hosts make is letting the speaker, entertainer, musical group or panel run overtime.
To guarantee appropriate start and stop times, prepare 10-, five-, two- and zero-minute time cards in red bold type that is large enough to be seen 50m from the stage or front area.
Stand to the side of the room to let the person or group know how much time they have left.
As the time counts down, have them give a signal to let you know they are aware they need to wind down their speech before you come back on stage to thank them.
6. Mobile devices
Remind delegates to turn the sound off on their mobile devices at the beginning of an event and upon returning from breaks.
While it is entirely appropriate for today’s audiences to tweet, sms or e-mail during sessions, the sound component of the mobile devices should be in the off position just as it would be in a movie theatre.
7. Transition time and signage
Allow ample transition time to and from ballrooms or breakout rooms for delegates to network or visit exhibitor stands or talk with speakers between sessions.
Provide clear signage with the correct rooms or speakers’ names or a sign welcoming attendees.
Which type of microphone should you use — hand-held, at the podium or lapel?
Your voice and choice of words must be clear and easy to understand. Testing microphones before an event will help dictate the volume to use on the occasion.
Here’s a tip: The lapel microphone is the least favoured among professionals.
9. Feedback forms
Audience feedback is critical for you to learn how the content, message, style and wow factor was delivered by presenters.
The best time for an emcee to get corporate or expo audience feedback is immediately after a presenter finishes.
Referred to as “transition time”, the gap between the last speaker and the next one being introduced gives delegates about 45 seconds to summarise notes and rate the speaker, providing feedback from the audience to the organising team.
10. Event insurance
A professional emcee or host can help to ensure a great experience and leverage an event many times over.
By including these 10 points in your planning, you or your conference emcee or host will have what every successful event planner loves having — more time. It is the most valuable resource for enjoying the speakers and experts who are hired to motivate, educate and entertain delegates and audiences.