Curated Conversations: Careful Planning Drives Event Success
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By Roxanne Leone, Director, Marketing & Communications
Did you know that the B2B trade show market in the United States was valued at $13.7 billion back in 2016, and is forecasted to grow to 16.8 billion by the end of 2021? If you’re competing for butts in seats at your next curated conversation event, you might want to consider your audience first. Remember, success is not based on what you want to tell them, but what they want to hear!
Year after year, people attend our very own events at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) and SCTE·ISBE’s Cable-Tec Expo to listen to the most diverse thinking on the technology they care about. As I see it, event curation is about creating an open dialogue with highly prepared speakers to discuss timely topics from the industry. For Bob Gold & Associates, the key is selecting the right speakers and preparing topics ahead of time, so it supports an overarching story.
After years of using sticky notes as wallpaper in our office, we’ve learned a thing or two about planning a worthwhile event for our guests. And our strategy can be adapted for almost any event.
We first determine the overarching story, or theme, 6 months in advance and ask ourselves these five key questions:
1. Why are we hosting this event?
2. What do we want the audience to take away from this event?
3. Do we want the audience to learn something, be inspired, or take some action?
4. Who are my ideal speakers to share relevant content to help tell the story?
5. What content flow will tell the most compelling story?
We tend to spend the majority of our time on selecting speakers and hosting prep calls to ensure participants are on topic and that everyone has the opportunity to weave in their own relevant key messages.
Questions 4 and 5 can make or break an event. For our upcoming curated conversation this fall, we are evaluating potential speakers in cable and telecommunications that have a compelling story to tell and have an engaging personality and presentation style. Plus, it’s equally important to consider gender, age, and academic background to showcase diversity. To brainstorm content, we discuss the current situation in the industry. We share personal stories and case studies to showcase various successes and challenges. Then we open the conversation to predictions for the future, recap key points and solicit questions from the audience. Once our brainstorm session is complete, we draft questions for the moderator, share with the panel and fine tune 2 weeks before the event.
The only way to keep an overarching story intact to meet the needs of your audience is to prepare your speakers to think BIG PICTURE while strategically incorporating messages they wish to get across.