Activities Planning

 

Organizing an event is often more complicated than most people think.  There are companies focused in event management in the market, and there are a lot of skills.  KMP as an association, it is unavoidable that we have to organize events for our members and in different occasions.  This document helps as a quick training guide and a check list for organizing events or activity planning.  The following are roughly what that are required to be considered or planned.

General Attentions

  1. The Overall Concept - it is still important to think about all these questions below which affect the way the event is managed.
    • Who is this event organized for?  They will be the target audience.  Will they be interested?  Is the event relevant to them, and how relevant?  How can I reach them?  How can I communicate with them?  All these are important to the promotion
    • Why this event?  What is the significance of this event to the audience and to the association, or any other stakeholders?  Are there any other stakeholders who can be invited for a better success or for other reasons?  There might be some unformal or hidden objectives or meanings which you also wish to achieve at the same time.
    • What is the best format of this activity to be most effective?  What is the duration?  Should it be a seminar, a panel discussion, interactions, or a different settings including KM settings?
    • What resources you need to organize this event?  What you have and what not, and what is critical?  This could include time, venue, budget, people, etc.  How can these resources be made available?  Do not forget external sponsors or helpers.
    • What or which external parties can be the partners for this event?  They can take the roles of co-organizers, sponsors, and supporting organizations.  What can be expected out of them?  Why is it relevant to them, and what are the benefits on both sides?
    • A formula for reference which I learned for program planning when I was young:
      • Program Planning = Allocation of Duties + Budget + Coordination + Decoration + Equipment + Flexibilities + If weather + If emergencies + If ...
  2. The Event Webpage - When we communicate with guests, speakers, participants or partners, it is necessary to tell them the entire idea and concept, and convey the same information to different people.  The event webpage becomes the best and most important tool.
    • It is common that preparing the event webpage can take a few weeks because:
      • This webpage is essentially a selling tool, which you need to attract or persuade people to participate, partners to support, or speakers to support.  It is always a desire to make a simple but convincing webpage, and that is always a challenge.
      • Don't count you have all the exact details right in the beginning.  It is very common you have to wait for information from different stakeholders or parties.  A simple example is to wait for speakers' portrait photo and bio especially when you have more than 1 speaker.
      • In some cases, the presentation or some details of the webpage may require approval from some stakeholders, and this takes time too.
      • It is not surprising that a lot of things will be changed along the way after talking with different people and parties, including confirming with supporting organizations.  It is not uncommon that the event webpage still require modifications even after being published but that is also the advantage of using a webpage - a single point of reference even though there are changes.  Hardcopies, after they have been sent out, cannot be changed anymore.
    • Be prepared to continue changes after the event webpage is published for promotion due to different reasons, not limited to the following:
      • Changes in speakers, their requests of change in portraits and bio, change of people, etc.
      • Change or re-arrangement of rundown, change in venue, etc.
    • It is not uncommon that separate posters or flyers are needed for the same activity.  When we seek help from other parties or organizations for supporting, or for promotion, very often they request a format which offers more convenience to them.  Use of posters for printing or as attachment to emails is very common too.  The drawback is, these materials cannot be changed after it has been delivered.  Due to the common nature of changes, you might end up in different update versions of posters.
  3. Promotion & Registration Management - Promotion is a very important part of event management.  It is marketing.  it requires a marketing mindset and appropriate skills, and the right strategy.  It is not uncommon to have variations during the promotion process which is not part of the plan.
    • Promotional tools - the event webpage, posters, eDM (electronic direct mails) systems, mailing lists, graphics, are tools that will be needed.  Marketing is also communication.  Different tools can be used to convey the messages, with different effectiveness, pros and cons.
    • Promotion channel - There are different channels for promotion, including traditional, digital, social media, thru third party, or supporting or other organizations, etc.  It is a good practice to maintain the same image and tone across all different channel.  The event webpage is therefore the easiest and best reference.  Therefore, it is also a good practice to have a good and same banner among all different channels and media for the same event.
    • Supporting organizations - when promoting thru supporting organizations who are basically a third-party, it is also helpful to consider their concerns, their interests, their relevancy and their convenience too.  In addition, what we as an organizer can facilitate the promotion within their organization and channels will eventually determine how successful it will be.
    • Relevancy - It is important to identify or segment the target audience, and focus on why the activity is relevant to them, how it could influence the audience, and perhaps also the meanings and significance behind.  It is also good to consider that the expectations from audience as a result of participating in the event.
    • Respect - It is important to maintain the right attitude and respect in all messages and actions during promotion because it represents the image of the Event Manager and the association or organizations.
    • Integrity - It is important not to over-exaggerate during promotion.  It is difficult to cut a line but we should always stick to facts, try to avoid dishonesty, and keep the benefits to the target audience in priority.
    • Registration - In KMP, we try to have online registration, and maintain a single point of registration.  Online registration helps automation of the entire process, including registration, confirmation, notifications and reminders, etc.  Managing and combining the promotion process and the registration progress will give more insights of the effectively of different promotion methods, channels and tactics, etc.  Digital registration also enables analytics of the registration process, which also gives supporting to these insights, such as open rates in eDM, event webpage access statistics, etc.
    • Customer experience - every touch point of the audience and participants is a matter of customer experience.  It is a good practice to keep things simple but effective for the audience, and especially for the participants who has taken action to join the activity.  For this reason, automation of the online registration process becomes important.  The registration - acknowledgement - notifications - confirmation - reminder process is an example, yet the automation process will help minimize the efforts behind the scene.
    • Privacy - It is a legal requirement, a matter of participants respect to keep their data confidential.  For this reason, KMP have to have the registration data kept confidential too.  Only authorized people will have access to these personal data.  The KMP platform is also built with this in consideration.  In the structure of KMP, the Secretariat Office will be the one taking care of these processes and at the same time maintain the need of privacy protection.
  4. Event Preparation - Prior to the event, there are still a lot of preparation for the event itself on the date during execution.  This could include, but not limited to:
    • Detailed run-down of the entire event, who is responsible for what, standby and positioning, back-stage or side helpers, etc.  It is important to communicate with each responsible and involved parties of their responsibilities, the tools they need and prepare, completion date, etc.
    • Decoration - including site settings, backdrop, banner, stands, lighting, etc.
    • Printing - Any printing requires time, design, artworks, etc., and therefore should be ready at least 1 week prior to the event.  Do not forget the possibility of changes, mistakes corrections, etc.  Printing can include run-downs, event publications, backdrop, banners, standards, brochures, distributions
    • Gifts or certificates to speakers, supporting organizations, participants, prizes, materials of distribution, bags or holders, etc.
    • Communication with stakeholders, especially the speakers, modulators, keynote speakers, MC, etc.  Take care of the rundown, how each individuals would need in their respective sessions, what need to be prepared and expected, etc.
    • Preparation of tools, computers, equipment, mic, connections, stationeries, consumables, etc., which might be needed during the event.
    • Venue preparation - lighting, equipment, visual-audio, projectors, WiFi or internet connection, seating, etc.  Sometimes, prior site inspection and testing might be necessary.
    • Reception - people to man the reception, materials necessary for onsite registration such as on-site registration process, participant list, name tags, reception table, additional promotional items, preparation for participants, distribution of materials, etc.
    • Photography & video-taking - photographers, camera-man, etc.  It is important to follow-up with the photo or video taken, and how to collect them efficiently.
    • Other roles of helpers needed - such as MC, road signs, cleaning, drinks/snacks for breaks, wash-room signs, etc.
    • Parking facilities - some of the VIPs, speakers, or even participants might require arrangement of car-parks.  Prior arrangements might be needed.
    • Questionaires or feedbacks - KMP practice an online feedback form for participants.  In the event of 7 May 2016, it proved to be quite effective.  Prior preparation of the online form is necessary, and preferably with a short and easy-to-remember link.
    • Participants notifications, confirmation and reminders - this is mentioned in the promotion part above, but this is important and should also be part of the event preparation too.
  5. Event Day Execution
    • Onsite Trial Run or Testing - testing of all settings, equipment, computers, projection, connections, etc, especially involving the speakers.
    • Prior reception and Pitching for speakers or VIPs - it could be very helpful and effective to the overall event to align points of attention, expectations, timing control, etc.
    • Timer - In some cases, it is good to have people responsible for timing control of the event, and signal to the speakers on the stage.
    • Reception & On-site Registration - unless it is necessary to verify the validity of participant registration (such as a paid event), collection of payment, or to collect their business cards, etc., otherwise the on-site registration can become a bottleneck.  In reality, not much people are really following up on the result of on-site registrations, and the information of the participants are already collected during the time of registration anyway.
    • Seating Management - when seats are limited, this might be necessary, and helpers might be needed in such cases.
    • Participants feedbacks - this is what most organizers would do, trying to collect feedbacks or to collect other opinions.  However, the effectiveness is always a problem, especially most participants are not really willing to spend the time, and whether these feedbacks are serious and accurate.  KMP started to practice an online feedback form starting the event of 7 May 2016 and found it quite successful.  Online feedback can be easily done using smartphone nowadays, and while the participants are in their privacy or on the road back, they might be more willing to provide quality feedbacks especially they feel engaged in the event.  However, it is important to notify the participants the link of the online feedback form.  It can either be a small piece of paper which participants can easily put in their pockets, or a automatically sent notifications (by email or others) right after the event.
    • Wrap of Event - it is good to have a short wrap-up speech at the end of the event for closing, reminders, and follow-up actions.
  6. Post Event Follow-Up
    • Photos, a post-event report, presentation slide or reference materials from speakers, etc., can be posted alongside the event webpage for participants to review or download, or for future reference.
    • Actions as a result of the event that require follow-up.
    • Use of eDM for follow-up notifications or actions can always be done, and is easy for KMP.

The author is experienced in Event Management in different organizations and associations, including some international meetings such as the APEC.  In KMP, a lot of these activites are supported by automation using various integrated systems, and is the job of the Secretariat Office.  The author is also taking up the role of Secretariat Office at the time of this document.

In the subsequent sub-chapters, more focus will be put in relation to the operation of KMP, in relation to the website, tools, and automation.  Checklists will be published for quick and convenient references to Event Managers.

 

 

 

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