10 steps to a winning event agenda

6 Mar 2019 Events

10 steps to a winning event agenda

To get people to your events, you have to make it worth their while. And that means creating an event that will inspire, inform or challenge your attendees. So, one of the first and most crucial tasks of business event planning - and potentially one that will define the success of the occasion - is planning an interesting, engaging and above all relevant agenda.

Here are some top tips to make sure that your event agenda covers the right topics, in the right way.

1. Know who you are talking to

Knowing who you want to attend is vital to a successful business event. How can you appeal to potential attendees if you don’t know who they are and what they want? Research into your market and your audience is crucial.

2. Know what you want to achieve

Before you can start on your agenda, you have to know what you want your event to do. So, whether you’re organising a conference, award show, teambuilding day or roadshow, one of the very first things you should do is to establish tangible goals and objectives. Once the event is over, you should also be sure that you measure the success of your event against these KPIs.

3. Choose the right topics

To attract attendees to your event, you must find subjects that will be of interest to them. Because, if you want your attendees to be engaged, your agenda must reflect their needs. So, before getting to the structure of your programme, conduct pre-event research around potential themes. Once an overarching topic has been agreed, you can then look at how to divide this into digestible chunks.

4. Choose the right format

Most business events still follow the traditional plenary + breakout sessions format. However, many event structures might serve your audience better. These range from contemporary adaptations of tried and tested styles, to highly innovative and tailored formats that are designed for a specific audience or communications need.

Start by looking at your event, your target audience, your business objectives, and your communications culture. And, once armed with this information, look at how you can re-engineer your conference agenda and format to achieve better uptake of invitations, better delegate interaction and more effective communication of key messages.

For example, as well as keynote speeches, you could run a range of more intimate sessions such as simulations, workshops, teambuilding, training, etc.

5. Choose the right speakers

There is a broad range of professional hosts and speakers for your corporate events. With someone suitable to talk about virtually any topic you can think of. This includes:

  • Motivational experts
  • TV personalities and entertainers
  • Knowledge experts in a chosen field
  • Professional hosts and moderators
  • Interviewers and news presenters.

However, while big names are undoubtedly impressive, booking the wrong speaker - however famous - can be a costly mistake. The trick is to find a speaker that works for you. Someone who understands what you are trying to achieve and who will work with you to convey the right messages.

6. Plan your day

As well as setting out what you will be talking about at your event, you must also establish a realistic amount of time for each topic/session. To do this, calculate how much time the speaker/host will need to introduce the topic, answer any questions, discuss potential solutions etc. You should also take the session format into account when looking at timings.

It’s all too easy for inexperienced event planners to under or overestimate the amount of time required, and that can lead to frustration from speakers and attendees alike.

7. Share your agenda

Once your agenda has been agreed, you have to figure out how to make this information accessible to attendees. One way to do this is through the creation of promotional content. Indeed, the right content is crucial when it comes to attracting and influencing your audience.

Think about how you can use content to promote your event, attract more attendees and boost your overall event experience.

This could include things like:

  • Videos
  • Vox pops
  • Behind the scenes exposés
  • Pre-event surveys
  • Emails
  • Social media posts
  • Press releases and in-depth features
  • Blogs
  • Drip feed teasers
  • Interviews
  • PPC ads
  • VR/AR content.

As part of your content strategy, you should also look to create shareable content to promote your event and amplify your message.

Creating an event content strategy

8. Establish the right communication channels

Once your agenda is agreed, you must put a strategy in place on how to share this across multiple channels. For example:

  • Targeted messaging through social media, websites, SEO, PPC, etc.
  • Targeted message via more traditional media
  • Engagement with influencers (bloggers, journalists, industry experts, speakers, etc.)
  • Leveraging partner networks
  • Experiential guerrilla communications.

Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t.

9. Make it easy for attendees

To take your agenda planning to the next level, you should also make it easy for delegates to access it, quickly find what they want, and register for sessions of interest to them.

To do this, you could:

  • Create a user-friendly event app
  • Use an innovative online delegate registration platform
  • Make the agenda shareable on social media before the event
  • Allow attendees to embed the conference agenda into their calendars
  • Create multiple agenda views to meet the needs of different attendees
  • Make the agenda interactive (e.g. ensure sessions can be liked and rated).

10. Make it easy for yourself

If all this sounds a bit complicated and time-consuming, Apex can take the pain away.

Using our agenda building tool, which we have developed using our many years of experience, we can ensure you cover the right topics, in the right way. And allocate the right speaker and amount of time to each one. But it doesn't stop there. We can also identify what type of content you need, generate this collateral, and find the best ways to promote it to your attendees.

Ultimately, it's about making sure you deliver those all-important communications in a way that informs, impresses, entertains, and motivates.


Event Planning Checklist

We know that you want to create successful corporate events that will be talked about for years to come (for all the right reasons). But how can you make sure that poor planning doesn’t let you down on the day?

Brought to you from the experts at Apex, our handy checklist will help you to reach your event goals and achieve a truly positive experience.

In this event planning checklist for event profs

  • Planning the event. Establish your event goals, choose a venue and set your agenda
  • Organising the event. Finalise all the details and add some magic
  • Promoting the event.  Create and launch a winning publicity campaign
  • Hosting the event. Entertain, inspire and inform
  • Promotion. Attract and retain visitors ahead of your competitors
  • After the event. Capitalise on your event presence, long after it is over.

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At Apex, we create and deliver objective focused corporate events that look fantastic. With 30 years' experience in this area, our philosophy is based on exceptional service, expertise and innovative solutions. Contact us today on +44 (0)1625 429370 or email mail@apex.co.uk to find out more or for an exploratory conversation.

Paul Ashford

Paul Ashford is a founding director of Apex.co.uk and has over 25 years’ experience in live events and conferencing. He has a particular interest in creative communication and team dynamics and advises Apex’ clients on how to build teams and convey their key messages in visually stimulating and effective formats.

Apex Event Management and Exhibition Stands

Apex Event Management and Exhibition Stands