Association Congress

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The importance of having good objectives

Great objectives lead to great events. Wow! That’s a big call for the first sentence of a blog. But organising events and blogging about them is about being bold, being gallus. And it’s about saying that there are a few simple things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your events.  And the first and most important is that you make sure you set - or are given - proper, definite measurable objectives.

Event Managers are often charged with not delivering on the event. And of course this happens, but more than not it’s because the right objectives weren’t set in the first place. So send your client or your commissioning stakeholder back to the drawing board if they do any of these five things:

1.       Say, “can you organise the event along the same lines as last year”;
2.       Tell you to “not change anything, because delegates / guests / attendees didn’t say there was a problem”;
3.       Don’t discuss financial targets with you at the objectives stage (and remember making a loss can be a justifiable target if there are other important objectives to achieve);
4.       Don’t engage the expert, YOU, in the objectives setting process or
5.       Don’t realize the real strategic objectives that events can achieve (YOU the expert do, so make sure you tell them)

When I sit down with any client, or stakeholder (so that’s with an internal or an external customer) I adopt the same process. I hope you find it useful:  

Firstly I ask them to consider if an event is actually the best, most cost efficient way to deliver their objectives. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that occasionally we end up with a totally different plan to achieve those objectives, that doesn’t involve an event.

So make sure you start with a conversation about their objectives, rather than about their event because you aren’t at the stage to be talking about an event; that comes after YOU the expert have decided that an event is in fact the best way to achieve their objectives.

Once you agree, then, and only then, you can start to talk about the event. So next is to get a rough idea of what the objectives of the event are. You know, how can the event deliver the revenue? Make the PR point? Engage with suppliers / clients etc.

Thirdly and finally, to make sure you are given the right brief at this stage ensure you get good detailed answers to these three most important questions:

·         What are the objectives of each separate section and the event overall?
·         What will a successful event look like to you (the organisation) and the customer?
·         How will we be able to measure the success or otherwise of the event?

To end as boldly as we started, if you engage the client / stakeholder on objectives at the earliest stage, in a structured manner, you have a much higher chance of making the most out of your event. Discussing objectives is more important than choosing the right venue; the right caterer; using the latest marketing techniques or charging the right price. In fact it’s the most useful thing you can do. And you will be amazed how often clients and event managers don’t engage on this level. 

I cover stuff like this on my May 27th training course in London “Running More and Better Events” and here is the link and in my new book "Successful Events for Not For Profit Organisations", details of which can be found here:

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