Michael Curran, Publisher of the Ottawa Business Journal and President of Great River Media, has been developing, organizing and hosting business events in the Ottawa area for 20 years.
1) Have a clear purpose
As author Simon Sinek asked in his ground-breaking book Start With Why, I suggest ask-ing yourself the same question when considering holding an event. For a modest-sized city, Ottawa’s business event calendar is already jam packed. Ask yourself, what purpose will my event serve and who will it serve? Also, is there any other organization that I could partner with to share the work and the costs?
2) Imagine yourself as an attendee
Have you ever attended an event that is dragging on longer than expected and you atti-tude shifts from one of grateful attendee to unintended hostage? Yep. When planning an event, be respectful of people’s time. (I think that time, not money, is often the true barrier to people attending.) Imagine yourself as an attendee and consider what you would like. Avoid long-winded speeches. Instead, think about a snappy and interactive live interview or maybe integrating a short video message.
3) Book an interesting venue
Unique and trendy venues can really add to the atmosphere and energy of an event. I pre-fer venues with natural light. For example, consider the impact and appeal of the Shaw Centre with its giant curved glass wall and spectacular views. Similar breathtaking views of our picturesque city can be found at the Westin Ottawa’s TwentyTwo and the NAC’s O’Born Room.
4) Offer value beyond the event
Many events are planned as a one-time opportunity to present information or some type of message. That’s pretty straightforward. I feel that event planners often forget to con-sider how that information or message can last much longer than a one-time event.
In today’s multimedia world, there are so many opportunities to have the information or message extend into the future. For example, what about capturing key messages on vid-eo and posting them to YouTube? What about writing a short recap blog? Or maybe a photo slideshow that captures key parts of the event and photos of attendees. It’s easy to push this content out on social media channels and reach a far larger audience beyond the event’s attendees.