Organising your seminar in 10 key steps
The centrepiece of any event (seminar, convention, study or training day, team building, fair …) is the organisation. Here are 10 essential tips to make your event a success:
1 - CAREFULLY DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES AND TARGETS
Before launching into the organisation of your event, you must ask yourself a few questions that will allow you to establish its first bases.
- What motives are pushing you to organise this event?
- What do you want to do? Create a link, stimulate your teams, launch a new product?
- What messages do you want to communicate?
- What type of audience do you want to contact? Employees, partners, VIP customers?
There are a multitude of reasons that can transform themselves into event in their own right.
2 - CAREFULLY DEFINE YOUR THEME AND YOUR FORMAT
The correct choice of the theme of your event is a phase of primary importance because it is thanks to the theme that you are going to generate interest and support. To help you, you must:
- Take an interest in the people who make up your audience. Thus, if your audience is composed of sports people, why not offer them a team-building Olympic Games. On the other hand, if your audience has a preference for quieter activities, you can offer them an escape game (including solving an enigma) or a day of cookery lessons.
The right format:
- What time of day would be the most appropriate to meet your objectives? A morning, a day, an evening or several days?
- How many people will be involved?
All these questions are important in order to be able to define the reception areas (hypertext link with the possibilities at Stade de France) in keeping with the chosen theme and concept. For example, at Stade de France we can propose study days, conventions, company evenings enhanced, for example, by a tour of Stade de France or a zip line ride across it.
3 - CAREFULLY DEFINE YOUR RECEPTION AREA
During your research, it will be necessary to determine the sites that meet your requirements:
- Do you want a neutral location, a location marked by a strong history?
- Do you want a location with a national or international reputation?
- It is also very important to find out about the accessibility of the site.
- - Is the location easily accessible for people with reduced mobility?
- - - Does it have good access to public transport, is there plenty of accessible parking?
If you organise an event with an international scope, make sure that the location is well served by all major airports and stations. For example, Stade de France is ideally located because it is 20 mins from the Charles de Gaulle Airport and 10 mins from the Gare du Nord station via RER (hypertext link).
To validate your choice, a visit is essential. You will thus be able to ask all the questions relating to the reception capacity (possible layouts and adjustability?), the offers regarding ancillary services (sales and marketing support, catering logistics, activities etc.), does the location offer varied spaces and solutions (turnkey or made-to-measure)?
4 - CAREFULLY DEFINE YOUR RECEPTION DATE
This step is crucial because it will determine the attendance of your guests and, implicitly, its success. For this, you must check that your event is:
- Not during school periods,
- Not on public holidays,
- Outside of major sporting, sectoral and national events.
The available dates outside of these periods are very popular. You must therefore anticipate and send a request to your business contact as soon as possible in order to make a provisional booking for the chosen date.
5 - CAREFULLY DEFINE YOUR BUDGET
This part will involve finding the right balance between the defined budget and the actual costs of the event. To make the task easier for you, establish a list of all the expenditure items:
- Rental of premises,
- Transport of participants,
- Services offered free of charge,
- Administrative service,
- Payment options.
A small piece of advice, don’t forget to allocate a part of your budget (around 10% of the total amount), to prepare for the unexpected and last-minute requests that can inflate the bill.
6 - CAREFULLY DEFINE YOUR TO-DO LIST
To avoid any panic on D-Day, it is wise to do a reverse-schedule of your event as and when your organisation progresses. Thus, you will have benchmarks and a chronological list of the tasks to be performed. Your time will be optimised and the time frames will be anticipated.
A small tip: leave yourself some room for manoeuvre to remain flexible in case of the unforeseen.
The standard reverse-schedule:
- Location: make sure that you quickly confirm it with your business contact and take the opportunity to tell them about the desired configuration.
- Logistics: remember to check all the logistics and the signage of the event, which is paramount for the guests to be properly looked after.
- Speakers: choose an external speaker in the case where you are running an in-house seminar. Conversely, for a meeting aimed at your customers, the intervention of a person from the company is often appropriate. Remember to allow for well-defined time slots for the intervention of the chosen speakers and a possible rehearsal. You will be the master of the timings!
- Invitations: think to create personalised invitations which are better than generic ones and provide a reminder of your event’s dress code, if there is one in particular.
- Documentation: allow time for the creation of the communication media (about 4 weeks in advance): brochures, invitations, posters…
- Parking - Security: inform the parking and security department of the different people who will be present at the event.
- Reception - Badges - Hostesses - Photographer: produce badges to ensure easy access to the event’s location to all of the service providers.
- Payment: send the instalments in good time, check the expected deadlines with your contact person to avoid any disappointment.
7/ D-1/D-DAY: THE CRUCIAL MOMENTS
- Visit the premises to ensure that everything is in line with the specifications and in working order: microphones, projectors, audio and video systems….
- Putting up the decorations
- Be on the premises at least 2 hours before the start of the event to check that everything is in order and prepare to receive the first participants.
- Give a badge to people as they present themselves to reception in order to ensure control of access. The badges and the programmes are handed out at this time. The hosts and hostesses can indicate their seats to the participants and lead them to the room
- Also be sure to provide participants with a satisfaction form in order to obtain their feedback and improve your future events.
It must be organised with care and its programme should be interesting in order to create the desire to come. The programme must take account of the needs of participants and focus on a single theme. It is essential to allow for time for exchanges during the day through the coffee breaks or activities, which will be appreciated by the participants.
E.g. of a 1-day seminar:
- 09:00 Welcome coffee/breakfast
- 09:30 Welcome message
- 10:00 Keynote speaker
- 11:00 Break
- 11:15 Experts’ discussion
- 12:15 Final word
- 12:30 Lunch
- 14:30 Activities
It is important to look after your image by respecting the programme and scheduled timings (start and finish on time). Once again, plan for some room for manoeuvre in your event’s schedule.
8 - CAREFULLY DEFINE THE PROMOTION OF YOUR EVENT
The marketing of the event is the task which will determine its success because it is regarded as an important factor of success. Different cases:
- Internal Events: be sure to "create a buzz” around the announcement of your event by choosing the appropriate time for communicating it. This can be done on the occasion of an evening event, a plenary and/or via your social networks… the purpose being to be able to introduce your subject in a different way and to a receptive audience.
- External events: if your budget allows it, you can think of a broader communication plan (press…)
The objective: to warn the guests sufficiently in advance and ensure their presence, do not forget to indicate on the invitations that you are waiting for a response on their part (set a deadline for the response) and chase them up if necessary. Also remember to indicate the dress code of the day if there is one, as this will avoid disappointment (sportswear...)
9 - SATISFACTION FEEDBACK
After an event, it is important to be able to hold a debriefing meeting with all stakeholders in the project. This allows you to obtain your own feedback as well as that of your guests via the satisfaction questionnaire given out at the seminar. In order that the next event is a total success, take into account the comments that you are sent to correct any possible errors.
10 - MEMORIES
- What have I remembered from this day? This is the first question to ask oneself at the end of an event. It is crucial because it will determine the success or failure of your day. The challenge is a sizeable one as your guests must retain the essentials and have a very positive impression!
Indeed, the concept of remembering is paramount in events. Hundreds of events are created each year and this is not the first one which your guests will have taken part in. You have to be able to differentiate yourself and be able to create the "Wow effect". If this is the case, your notoriety is ensured and you win the bet, you have achieved your objectives
- To continue with this Wow effect, it is very important to send an email of thanks to your different audiences (external stakeholders, guests…). The opportunity to share the photo content of the event, the presentations broadcast during the seminar, or other messages you deem important to share. An additional opportunity to demonstrate your know-how to the outside world.