So set your date, figure out the talent you want. Who are going to be your experts? Now in the past, I’ve run events where it’s just me, I’ve had events where there’s just 3 or 4 people contributing to balance out my content, and I’ve also had ones where there’s 15 other people and I’m barely doing a session. So somewhere in between that is a good mix. I like these days to do two or three sessions and have 10 or so other experts spreading out content in short modules.
Decide on the duration of the event. It might be a half day, it might be a night preview, it might be a full day, it might be 2 days, it might be 3. My favorite format is two days. it’s just about right, people can get there the night before, they can stay the night of the event, and then they can leave if they want to early or stay on for holiday.
After three or four days, an event can really drag on and get pretty overwhelming, and the rest of your life is starting to get chaotic by the time you get home.
Come up with a talent brief to make sure that your experts match the theme and deliver. I mean, I’m ruthless about this. I want the slides a certain size, I want a particular minimum size font, I want my message to be conveyed so clearly that someone can get actionable information, and I preview all the presentations before they get delivered to the audience. I want to make sure I deliver on content, and you should be that strict. You’ve got to curate your event and make sure it delivers.
Come up with a schedule. Work out who’s going to speak in what spot, and make sure that it makes sense, like you get to sequence the event. Sequence it in a way that delivers the exact topics at the exact right times. So you might go broad in the beginning of the event, and then narrow it down to specific tacticals. You might cover themes, say business strategies, and then you might zoom in to specific tactics.
So there’s a few different ways you can do it, and I always like to finish the event on a light note with a competition and a bit of fun and laughing and a great feeling. And then we actually top that off by going for a surf. Think about how you want to open and close the event. The sequencing should make sense.
The importance of staging
Now once you’ve got the venue, you’ve gone through the contract, you’re going to find other little things crop up, like staging. Staging is a very simple word, but it’s an expensive one. This is curtains, lights, sounds. The stage, the platform that people actually stand on, podiums, those sort of things. This can make or break the professional feel of an event.
If you’ve ever been to an event where there’s really no stage, you can’t see the speaker and you’re not really able to hear them, then they didn’t really pay attention to the staging. But because I’m recording my events, I want beautiful velvet backdrops, I want a nice elevated stage, I want clear lighting, and I want impeccable sound, because it’s got to come out well in the video, and it’s going to be fantastic for people sitting in the audience.
Also, you’re going to have to talk about screens and projectors and which way you want to lay out the room, whether you want tables, whether you don’t, whether you want theatre, whether you want the round tables, or desk-type classroom setup, so there’s all these different options. Think about that. Think about events you’ve been to and which ones you liked and why, and how you should set up the room.
Now take care about catering, it can be very expensive. You might put your event somewhere near lots of food services. Just keep in mind, if you don’t provide food, it’s much cheaper. However, people will disappear for a food run and may not come back in time for sessions.
So I like to provide tea, coffee, and lunches, because it keeps people near the event, it’s very convenient, they can start talking to someone while they’re loading their plate, and they don’t have to leave the facility and then they can come back to the session on time. It makes for a really good experience.
Get a professional video crew and a really good photographer. If you’re trying to record your event with a little handicam or a tripod halfway down the aisle, then the output’s not going to be that great. Spend the money and get a pro crew, and they’re going to deliver to you on an MP4 stick after the event a high-quality rendition of your event which you can leverage. You can use those modules for your blog posts, you can use them to sell as information products.
Promoting the event
Then you need to prepare your sales page to promote for the event, set up your shopping cart to collect the money, get your autoresponder in play to be able to converse with people who buy a ticket, and you’ll be communicating with them before the event, getting them ready, telling them what they need to bring, where they need to be, what time. Make sure you have clear support details. And if your hotel requires room blocking, then make it easier for people to book rooms in the hotel.
Then you’ll need a marketing plan to promote the sales page, so you’re going to be actually mentioning this. If you want to know my marketing plan for SuperFastBusiness Live 10, which had quite a lot of people, nearly 200 people, we actually gave the case study at the event. Jake Hower presented the tech know-how, how he automated it. Ryan Spanger presented the video, how he actually prepared the case studies, and we also had Kyle Graham talk about how to automate the whole sales funnel using a special funnel software. There were three full modules on how we did it, how we sold the tickets, and how easy it was, and I suggest you can access that inside SuperFastBusiness membership. So go and check that out.
Now you might want to consider indemnity insurance for cover of any accidents. If you’re running an event, there’s a pretty good chance you should have an insurance policy just in case.
Now you might consider some merchandise. There could be hoodies, or pens, workbooks. These things with your brand on it are the sort of things people take home and keep. I know that I’m seeing all the time on Facebook people popping up with a SuperFastBusiness hoodie. And why wouldn’t they, because they’re so awesome.
Get a crew who can look after the participants. I’m fortunate to have a few helpers who have helped me out for most of my events. They’ll do it on a voluntary basis, in exchange for not having to buy a ticket, and because they like being a part of the crew, and maybe they get a special T-shirt or preferential seating.
But you’ll need people to sign up registrations when they arrive, hand out some name tags and lanyards, and perhaps sign a filming disclosure, and then to manage the flow into the room, like hold the doors and then let people in when you’re set up, and then grab people back from lunch when it’s time to start. You might have a little bell or something that you ring when it’s time to start, like at the opera.
You’ll also need a registration desk. So that’s where you can just induct people as they arrive, make it really obvious with good signage. And if you want to get some sponsors, maybe they can have their own desks in the hallways there as well. And quite often, you can either get paid upfront from a sponsor or do a split on anything they sell.
Get some pre-event surveys and post-event follow ups in play. So you want to find out before people come, what are they looking forward to? What would be deemed a success for them from this event? And in terms of after the event, what did they like the most, what did they like the least? That will help you tune your event. And I do believe it’s why SuperFastBusiness Live 10 was the best event that I’ve ever run so far because of the tuning of the content in previous years through surveys and follow ups. Know your audience, understand them, and deliver what you need to deliver.
Now if you happen to be selling things at your event, you’re going to have to look at complexity like credit card machines, contracts and you’ll have people manning tables. These days, I don’t worry too much about that because it’s pretty easy to make offers to people in the shopping cart, when they buy or after they buy, and you can follow them up.
Recording the event for high quality output
Here’s some important things to consider when recording the event for high quality output:
Gotta have good backdrop; nice curtains, excellent lighting, quality sound. Try and get the sound feeding through the PA and into the video at the same time rather than recording separately. I’ve had numerous issues with recording quality in the first few events I ran where they were trying to run it separately. No one wants to be walking around the stage with two microphones on them.
It’s much easier to integrate everything, and that’s where staging helps. You’ll want to do some sound checks, have spare batteries on hand, check all the microphones are set up, and get your speakers to get up on stage, get comfortable with the room and to do a soundcheck before they go live. The other thing is if you are taking questions from the audience, you’ll want to put a microphone in a fixed position where the camera can easily access it, and you’ll want to direct people to go to those microphones if they want to ask questions because unfortunately if they shout out a question and a speaker answers it without repeating the question, then it’s not going to come up on the video and people don’t know what they’re answering.
With your video setup, try and get a two-camera setup because you can then have the zoomed in shot and then the faraway shot. It gives you choices. And a good camera crew is going to edit on the fly two cameras so that they’ve always got the camera position in the right shot, and they can switch between slides, and zoom up, and then a wide shot, and it looks great. You only have to look at a few of my videos to see the quality of the recordings.
The team you need for the event
In terms of your team, you’re going to have videographers and in-house contractors for staging. They’ll take care of the sound, the projector, the screens, the computers, the resolution. You want to get into the room nice and early and have that working well before you start. I know I’ve kicked off one event where we were just down to the wire with this and it’s very stressful. So you want to remove the stress from that. Make sure you can see the person up on the stage. I’ve been to several events, we just can’t see the person up there and it’s pretty frustrating.