Q: We’ve recently started to hold business events, but are struggling to really capitalise on them. How do we make the most of holding events?
A: With focusing mostly on activities before and during the event, planners often exclude post-event communication from their strategy. It’s a pity, because the excellent opportunity to extend the event experience is unreasonably overlooked. Not necessary event has to end when the last attendee leaves. Participants might still experience it by spreading word of mouth or acting on it. After putting strong effort in planning, organizing and implementing the event, it is worth to struggle a little bit more and gain all the additional rewards possible.
In order to fully use post-event communications’ potential and gain the maximum from it, three aspects are worth to be taken into account. Post-event communication has to be planned in advance, provide interesting content, and most importantly – all actions should not be delayed.
The most suitable period for such activities is few following weeks after the event. Attendees still have fresh memories and remember both conversations and names. As experiences and details still haven’t faded away or got up mixed with new ones, participants are able to correspond properly to the post-event communication incentives.
When including post-event communications into the overall event planning you will get such advantages as integrity, avoidance of additional costs and time saving. Planning ahead allows assuring that details of communication before, during and after the event matches and fits the whole picture (for example, the same design and writing style used in messages). Plan post-event activities in advance and protect your team members from stress caused by suddenly emerged and unplanned tasks. Nobody wants to be demanded for extended commitment after the event has ended and it looked that finally it’s the time to relax.
Talking about the content of your follow-up activities, it may vary according to actions you have chosen. There are many ways how to continue event experience and here are some of them:
Photos of the event
The fact is that people like to see themselves in photos. It is like a prove that they have been there, contributed and became a part of the event. It happens that attendees really liked the venue, environment or particular presentations and would like to have photos to remember.
So post photos of the event and provide an ability to tag themselves and share it with their peers, colleagues etc. In this way your event will remain a topic to talk about even after its’ end.
New insights and statistics
Plan your event in such way that it will provide some material for post-event communication. Gather information during the event and get all the benefit from it afterwards. Organize discussion panels, “brainstorming” sessions on particular topics, or survey the participants on specific questions during presentations. Attendees will be engaged, so it’s good both for you and participants. IQ Polls is a perfect solution for this situation. Results not only appear on the screen in real-time, but also can be easily downloaded and used later on. You can use this data for your posts on your website, blog or social media channels. Take a note, that all information that you gain will become a valuable asset.
Here is a real example how IQ Polls was used in practice. “Reputation Academy”, an international conference on reputation management, gathered professionals to discuss trending topics. During the conference participants were asked to participate in topic-related surveys created on IQ Polls. This is how the results looked:
These results were used later on and shared via “Reputation Academy” social media channels (Facebook, Twitter). As it was exposed for a wider audience (not only participants could see it, but also those who didn’t attend), post-event communication had a better reach and served for raising awareness about upcoming events. Such-data driven content was a great complement for event photos, especially when talking about communication in social media.
As one of the main goals for meetings and presentations is audience’s engagement, why not to keep them engaged till the very end? Feedback from participants about what they liked or didn’t like about the event and suggestions for improvements will give new insights for planning forthcoming events. Traditional approach to get feedback is to conduct post-event survey by sending it through e-mail or Google Drive (Forms). The collected results then are analyzed, summarized and may be shared with participants after some time. Attendees will feel honored by the possibility to make an impact.
Post-event news release
Create a post-event news release to highlight the most interesting details of your event. Maybe there were impressive or famous speakers, who talked about something worth quoting. Sharing their presentations via SlideShare or videos on Youtube (with the speakers’ permissions, of course) would be appreciated not only by those who attended and would like to watch it once again, but also by those who didn’t. By the way, remember that statistics and insights gathered during the event? Use it to enrich your content. Post-event news release is an effective way not only to reconnect with attendees, but also to raise awareness and encourage people to get interested and sign up for your further events.
Create summary of your event in a form of short story. Mention how many people participated in the event, what discussions were raised, what were the “hottest” topics and supplement it with links to video, slide presentations and articles. Again, don’t forget photos. Such post-event stories should be published as your next blog post or/and newsletter.
“Thank you” notes
It may look obvious, but sometimes “Thank you” notes are just simply overlooked. It is always worth to go one extra mile for event participants. Saying once again how grateful you are for their participation and emphasizing their contribution is a nice touch without a doubt.
Paying as much attention to post-event communication as to pre-event one as it truly deserves – that is the substantial element for success. So don’t think that end of the event is end of communication. Rather consider it as a new beginning.
These tips were written by Arturas Jonkus, co-founder of IQPolls
November 3rd, 2015