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5 Essentials to Creating a Brilliant Corporate Event

 corporate event organier in manchester pork pies2

Don't Blame the Pork Pies: 5 Essentials to Creating a Brilliant Corporate Event

We’ve all been to events where we’ve come out and thought ‘what was that all about’?
We’ve probably even been to a few where we can’t even remember why we were there or what was said. And by the same token, occasionally, rarely, we come out with a head full of ideas; feeling like we can fly; full of optimism, energy, positivity and chomping to get cracking.

So what’s happened differently at each event? How do you plan a brilliant corporate event?

1 Content is King
The content of your conference is your product. Get this right and you are half way there. What do we mean by content? At Assured Events we break it down into three parts:

Purpose: is there a genuine purpose for your event? Is there a perceived need? Are people attending because there is a tangible benefit to attend or because of the 3-line whip? Is the event in the calendar because it’s always in the calendar at that time of year or will it positively contribute to the lives or performance of attendees? What are the objectives of the event? This is particularly important to consider if you are planning a ‘pay to attend’ corporate event.

Theme: What message is being communicated by your event? Is it current? The ‘internet of everything’ is a fairly current topic (at the time of going to print!) but is that relevant to your audience? Make sure that your event has a theme which addresses your specific message - this is your hook. The specific areas of interest within the theme should then be sourced and will hang off this hook.

Presenters: once the areas of interest have been identified, who is best placed to deliver them? Senior corporate figures don’t always make the best presenters and facilitators. You might want to consider paying for speakers, but research them well via YouTube and other social media. Assess their experience. In our experience of organising corporate events, ‘out of sector’ presenters always go down well. Hearing from someone who has faced a familiar challenge but in a different industry can generate valuable shared learnings. If you are going to include case studies don’t just go for the out-and-out success stories. Try and include those with a few warts. Learning what didn’t work is often as useful as what did.
Finally – give direction to your presenters on the kind of delivery you want. Don’t let the tail wag the dog. As a delegate, would you rather hear a message using images, or graphs with 6-point text?
Thought so. If a speaker puts the room in a collective coma, that’s your fault, not the speaker’s.

All in all, the content alone will determine whether your target audience will consider the event as value for money... even if it’s a free to attend or compulsory corporate event. People will ask themselves ‘is it worth my time’? You know what it’s like. If you are out of the office, something isn’t getting done – so is your event worth sacrificing the time? Even if it’s compulsory – if your event is not considered to be VfM in terms of time, your audience will be disengaged.

2 Air Pockets
Build breathing space into your itinerary. You may have a lot to cram in but people need time to digest what they have heard and to share it with others. Delegates highly value the chance to chat with colleagues and discuss the information they have heard, or even just to hear about other people’s experiences.

We used to call this 'chatting’ but these days it is known as networking. Presumably because chatting is that fruitless thing that you used to do at the back of a maths class. Networking is more businessy...apparently. Whatever it is – people like doing it so whatever you call it - make sure there is plenty of it in there.

3 What’s On The Menu?
Recent research confirms what we have always known, that food and catering in general can make or break an event. Make sure there is plenty of it but also be sure to minimise food wastage. Have a plan to where possible: pass on unused food and drink. Keep it rolling and keep an eye on uptake. Make sure that you know any dietary requirements – and address them fully.

The quality and type of the food is so important to people attending a corporate event. Food provenance should be explained – that on its own adds value, especially if attendees can see that the food miles have been kept low. In recent years those stalwarts of conference buffets, sandwiches and pork pies have had something of a bad rep. Leave them alone.  There’s nothing wrong with either but the bread or pastry types, fillings, provenance of ingredients can all make a huge difference.  Don't blame the pies!
Great food can lift a mediocre corporate event but a great event will be seriously dragged down by mediocre food.

4 The Roof Over Your Head
Ok it has to be accessible (including parking nearby) and of an appropriate size but is it on message? Your options will inevitably narrow the higher your numbers and shorter your lead time, but it must work with your core message. Trying to deliver an inspirational and motivational message in a room with a 2.8m suspended ceiling with bland images screwed to the walls seems at cross purposes to us. But it happens. Regularly.

Is the venue type appropriate to your audience? Older audiences may feel uncomfortable in nightclub venues; Younger audiences are not uplifted by lecture theatres; core corporates spend their life under those suspended ceilings, so why put them under another one having taken them out of the office. The venue alone can add impact to your event. Research you chosen locale fully, you’ll be amazed what you can find and dress.

The final word on venues is – make sure the staff are well briefed and prepared to be flexible on timings during the day. Presenters finishing early is as much of a challenge as presenters finishing late. Having 400 delegates piling out of a room to no tea, coffee or the all important locally sourced choc chip cookie does not make for a happy atmosphere. And they will let you know.
Every. Single. Time.
And rightly so.

5. The Take-aways
No – we’re not back to food but it is the bread and butter of why you are even running the event.

Delegates will not remember or retain everything they hear at your event.

What? You have spent over 6 months planning your event and they won’t remember every second?!

You need to ensure that through a balance of the above they do retain some elements of what they have heard. Perhaps presenters could make reference to this during their delivery...”if there is one thing that you should take away from this session it’s this...”

Or maybe at the end of each session, presenters could ask delegates to take a few notes on 2-3 elements of what they have heard that stick in their mind. By the end of the day there should be quite an array of captured information, on message and of personal value.

If you like our thinking and the way that we plan a corporate event at Assured Events, you can download our FREE 9 step, 24-page guide to organising an event from our home page.

But whatever you do - don't blame a poor event on the pork pies.

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9 Steps to Planning a Corporate Event

Planning a corporate event in Manchester

9 Steps to Planning a Corporate Event

Have you been asked to plan a corporate event and don’t know where to start? Below is a peek into our FREE 24-page, 9-step guide “So You Want To Run An Event” which you can download from our homepage. It’s full of tips, tools and further free downloads!

So where do we start...

Step 1: Know Your Event Objectives
It goes without saying that you will want your event to go well, whatever that means. But to judge something as having gone well, you need to have a clear idea about what you want to achieve. That can be easier said than done.

Write yourself a ‘brief’ for the event and ask what it is that you need out of this event. Whatever answer you come back with, challenge yourself again. Keep going until you have a very clear set of answers. These will become your objectives (you might even come to the conclusion that an event isn’t the best way to achieve them)!

Step 2: Know your Budget
It seems that there are two schools of thought when it comes to approaching event budgeting:
1. Have a figure in mind or that has been made available - and make the project fit it.
2. Have no figure in mind, but price up the project as per your vision, and see what it comes to.

Neither way is absolutely right or wrong but in both cases, the real challenge is not so much about managing the budget, it’s about managing your own expectations (or perhaps someone else’s).

Step 3: Create an Action Plan
The trick is to use the objectives and brief that you created in step one to create the picture; the vision of what your event should look and feel like; and to then start taking small steps towards it.

Part 1 of the Action Plan is to break your event project down into each broad component part. Once you’ve done that, break down each subcomponent into more detailed parts.

Part 2 of the Action Plan is to create a timing plan so that you know what has to be done, by when. The benefit of this is two-fold: firstly it helps you prioritise and secondly, if you have a specific date for your event, it helps you work out if, realistically, you even have enough time to deliver the event!

Part 3 of the Action Plan is to create a team to help you deliver your event project. You may be the lead organiser or have been appointed to manage the project but whoever said ‘many hands make light work’ had probably just arranged a three-day conference!

Step 4: Select Your Venue Partner
You will need to create a venue brief and gather information relating to your requirements from a wide range of venues. Once you have a list of 4-5 possibilities, carry out a recce to see the places for yourself. You’ll be amazed how different things may be when seen on the ground. We only ever go with our 1st choice venue from desk research about 20% of the time following a recce.

Step 5: Create Your Programme
The content is your product. This is what your event is all about. Ask yourself what content is needed to achieve your objectives. Budget clearly has an impact on who you can approach to speak at a conference or dinner, or what level of entertainment you can have at say, an annual awards ceremony. But the content must be on brief.

Step 6: Select Your Suppliers
Although this is your project to design, develop and deliver, you know that you can’t do it on your own. Regardless of what your event is and what your objectives are, in addition to hosts, speakers and entertainment, it is highly likely that you will also need to draw on a whole host of other suppliers.
You and your suppliers are your team, and just as teams can win or lose depending on the abilities and attitudes of individual team members, your event will only ever be as good as your suppliers can make it - and you are responsible for picking your suppliers.

Step 7: Shout From the Rooftops
This is all about communication. You will need to create a brand identity to actually communicate; create a booking website; establish an email campaign; you might want to form a relationship with a 3rd party to help promote your event...You may even need to incentivise registrations. The message needs to be broadcast to the right audience in the right way. If your potential audience isn’t responding, the answer is most probably NOT to simply shout louder.

Step 8: Manage the Big Day
The event day is really all about delivery, which can be broken down into two components: operational and content.

In your action plan in step 3, you will have worked out who will be helping you deliver the event on the day. In the weeks running up to the event, you should allocate roles to specific people.
You will also need to create an event schedule - a chronological plan outlining what is happening at any given point in the whole event set up and delivery process.

This is what the event is all about. As we mentioned before – this is your product! Allocate someone to time-keep and manage speakers. They will also be able to convey delays or advancements to venue staff outside of the event room. Encourage interaction between the audience and speakers both inside the event room and at refreshment breaks.

Step 9: Ask – How did We Do?
Let’s go back to the original question in step 1... how do you know the event went well and did it achieve its objectives? Now is the time to evaluate!

The nature of your event and its audience will determine what kind of evaluations you can carry out but there are a few routes that can help create a rounded picture of the event’s success and again it’s worth bearing in mind you should look at your project operationally and from a content point of view. You should consider using the following routes:

anecdotal feedback
monitoring social media
an electronic post event evaluation
a team debrief

Wherever it is that you want to get to - enjoy your event journey!

(And don’t forget to download our FREE 24-page 9 Step Guide to planning a corporate event from our home page.)

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Event Management in Manchester: a day in the life of an event co-ordinator

Event management in Manchester by Emma Bolam

Event Management in Manchester: a day in the life of an event co-ordinator

I enjoy being an Event Co-ordinator at Assured Events because it means that many different project types pass over my desk. Over the past month I have been planning a conference, organising incentive travel, arranging team building activity, arranging a gala dinner as well as meeting new suppliers and sourcing new venues. Venue finding is such an important process – and our clients demand and expect only the best!

We are based in Manchester, but the events I am working on may be anywhere in the country.  I currently have event  projects in Exeter, Bristol, Lincoln, London, as well as Italy, France... and Manchester!

My day usually starts at around 08:45. I begin by logging on and checking through my emails. I have received a CV. I reply straight away, as we always respond to everybody who expresses an interest in working at Assured Events.

I have quite a list to get through today. Firstly, I need to send out some enquiries to some suppliers. I am looking into room gifts for delegates and speaker gifts for one of the annual conferences that we organise. It’s a huge event and conference planning for an event of this size takes almost a year! Once I receive these back, the most suitable items will be added to a proposal for the client to choose from.

Next, I am currently working on an event pack for a client - this is for a Christmas party, very early in December. The event pack includes details such as, hotel locations, restaurant and bar information along with anything else the client ought to know about their event.

Morning over and I haven’t eaten any of the chocolate in the office today! However, there is still time!

This afternoon I am focusing on building a delegate registration website for another annual conference we are planning. This is something I haven’t done too many times before, so Sarah guides me through this ... she is very patient with me!

It is already 3:30p.m. - My next task is creating an event app for an annual conference taking place in February. This is something that I will be working on frequently from now until the event. I will need to regularly update details as they come through.

Before the end of the day, I flag any emails that need responding to the next day. I then write myself some reminders of jobs that need completing tomorrow.

We are all working across many different event types as well as business development. I ask Ella if she needs anything doing on the incentive travel brief she is working on. It’s a ‘no’ and the day is done. Where it has gone, I don’t know - time to go home!

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