5 event planning strategies

Successful corporate events require a delicate balance between being informative and interactive, productive, and fun. While finding that balance isn’t always easy, with a little know-how it’s always possible. Turn even the dullest annual meeting into a fun-filled, productive affair with these 5 foolproof ways to host successful corporate events:

1. Add meaning to your event by setting a clear objective.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a meeting or conference that doesn’t have a point. Talk about a waste of time! Add real meaning to your corporate events by coming up with a clear objective for each one. Try the SMART method when setting a meaningful goal:

  • Forget vague goals like “promoting unity,” “encouraging discussion,” or “getting everyone up to date.” Instead, come up with a specific goal that addresses a concrete problem in your company or industry. Make sure the problem has a real solution.
  • At the end of the day, you want to be able to tell whether or not you actually met your goal. Set a measurable goal and stay on track using incremental benchmarks. Break your objective down and use numbers to define success whenever you can.
  • Make your objective something achievable. Attending a meeting or conference with an unattainable objective is only slightly less frustrating than attending one without any objective. Before you make a goal, visualize what successfully completing that goal looks like.
  • Corporations set and accomplish goals every day. Most of them are vital to the company’s well-being, but not important enough to build an entire event around. Choose an objective that is relevant enough to draw participants from throughout your corporation or industry.
  • Not every goal can be accomplished in a few days. Pick one that can be. Set a goal that is time-bound to the end of your event.

Once you’ve settled on an objective, share it with participants, presenters, staff, and volunteers. More people will participate in your event if they understand what’s at stake.

2. Get participants involved with interactive activities.

You know what an unengaging event looks like: droning speakers, staff members checking their watches, participants dozing in their folding chairs. Keep everyone engaged by introducing interactive elements—like team-building exercises, seminars, real-time polls and quizzes, and immersive learning opportunities—that draw participants into your event.

If the goal of your event is to teach new skills, interactive activities are even more important. Immersive learning opportunities give participants a chance to practice their new skill set, which increases knowledge retention. It also gives participants the chance to get immediate feedback from the event’s instructors.

3. Incorporate new technology into your event.

Embrace the learning curve. It can help you involve participants in new ways and, ultimately, grow your events. Plan, promote, and manage successful corporate events by taking advantage of new technology. Here are a few ways to add innovation to your event:

  • Send out a pre-event survey to test your options. The results to questions about prefered venues, dates, speakers, and objectives can help you plan an event that satisfies as many people as possible.
  • Create an event app that includes session descriptions and schedules, and information about logistics like parking. Currently, about half of participants use these apps to navigate an event. Go one step further by conducting real-time polls and surveys with the app during your event.
  • Promote your event online using tools like promo codes, email marketing, social media marketing, closed Facebook groups for participants, and Instagram printers. Seven in ten event programmers say that making an event go viral is critical to its success.

To host a successful corporate event, flexibility is key. Welcome innovative changes, like those above, that make your event more responsive to the needs of participants.

4. Make the event last by producing compelling material.

Great corporate events don’t end after the last session. Instead, they live on in lasting business connections, compelling anecdotes, and real change. Create great post-event materials–like online videos and webinars–that reinforce the objective of your event. Participants can return to these resources when they need a refresher.

5. Ask for feedback from participants, presenters, and staff.

Find out how you can improve your next event with a post-event feedback survey. Because participants, presenters, and staff all see different sides of an event, create a separate post-event survey for each of these groups.

  • Ask participants to rate their satisfaction with particular aspects of the event, such as the location, venue, dates, speakers, and the sessions.
  • Ask presenters to rate their satisfaction with the travel arrangements, accommodation, staff support, attendees and the level of compensation.
  • Ask staff to rate their satisfaction with the organization, fellow staff members, the team leaders, and the level of compensation.

Ask each group for their final thoughts in an open-ended question. This question reveals a lot about what each person finds important in an event. Construct a roadmap for future success by aggregating the answers you receive in this, and other, feedback questions.

When it comes to something as dynamic as a corporate event, success is a moving target. To stay on top of the game, gather as much feedback as you can from every event. The feedback will help you identify ways to continue hosting events that are engaging and relevant.

For more help in planning future events, check out our event planning checklist and survey scientist-approved questionnaire templates.