After months of tireless and meticulous planning for a flawless corporate event, you have created something that transports your attendees to another world and impresses stakeholders—truly something to be proud of.
Events and conferences like this will get attendees involved and completely immersed in your carefully planned agenda; they will be walking away challenged, empowered and excited to put the key messages and learnings to great use.
To achieve this level of an impact on attendees, as well as a measurable ROI, it is imperative to employ strategies in your planning that create a comprehensive experience, before, during and (often overlooked) after your event. So, how do you keep the experience in the minds of the participants long after it has concluded? Use these three practical strategies to ratchet up your post-event game and solidify the ROI of your event.
1. Keep the Message Alive
A brilliant communication strategy keeps the message alive while making a tangible impact. Just because the event is over doesn’t mean communication is over with your attendees.
In fact, this is the most important time to communicate, because when follow-up is left unaddressed, attendees forget 70 percent or more of what they have learned. After attendees head back to work they are almost immediately faced with day-to-day pressures and routines, so it’s understandable that they forget what they have learned, despite their level of excitement.
We’re human and it’s bound to happen, so help your attendees retain the information you worked so hard to present with this communication strategy:
- Personalized: No longer a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have. When you follow up with your attendees, address them by their names, and perhaps include a joke or a memory from the event. If you clearly convey the value of the investment of their time and presence at the event, your impact on that individual will soar.
- Relevant: Provide them with information they can truly use. If your event held breakout sessions, send each group a packet of digital, but also printable and shareable, content they can use back on-the-job.
- Timely: Timing is everything. Send out your first communication within a week of the event and follow up with regularly scheduled communications.
2. Use Digital Reinforcement and Gamification Solutions
After a well-executed event, attendees should feel enthusiastic and eager. While you have unquestionably made an impact, this enthusiasm will not be enough, particularly if you intend to reapply the message on the job. Post-event attendees will need a nudge every now and then to stay on track.
One way to do this is with an online game. These challenge the user to revisit and remember aspects of the event through online quizzes, videos and messages that participants engage with and are ranked against their colleagues. It is also a great opportunity to include a call to action with simple, practical ideas.
While this strategy is often viewed as an extra expense, consider that in order for your investment to be fully realized in a sustainable manner, the message must be reinforced and incorporated back on-the-job to make a difference. When planning your next event, keep a line in your budget for these solutions, since this is truly where your ROI will be most evident.
3. Establish Event Advocates
While the support and presence of key leadership members and stakeholders is crucial to the event ROI and impact, the responsibility does not need to rest solely with them. Actions these members do could be equally effective, if not more, if these actions came from fellow colleagues.
Enter the role of event advocates. These can be members from the organization who wholeheartedly participated in the conference and truly believe the message or learnings should be kept alive and utilized back on the job. Advocates see the value of the investment and are willing to step into a role among their peers to keep it alive. Actions may include these:
- Sharing memories, such as photos or videos.
- Providing content that they have found helpful back on the job.
- Telling stories of how they (personally) or their team is applying the message in the days and weeks after the event.
- Offering support or a point of contact for any unanswered questions that have appeared as they return to work.
The most important thing to keep in mind about this post-event strategy is that it must be genuine. People are truly willing to listen and apply the message when they see the event advocates trying to incorporate what they’ve learned. In other words, the event advocates are “practicing what they preach.”
Every event has the potential to achieve your ideal ROI and impact. So many fall into the trap of failing to look at the event as a whole experience. The attendee’s experience begins before the event doors open and continues long after the last light has been turned off at the venue.
For your event to realize its full potential and truly deliver results, you must prepare a post-event strategy with the audience in mind. When you create a post-event strategy that is specific and well-planned, you will be able to deliver the results and the impact as you have committed.
Sue Wigston is the COO of Eagle's Flight. Sue's extensive senior leadership and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and is an authority on training and development.