Planning an event is a huge undertaking. It’s an all-encompassing process, and by the time the event finishes you’ll probably be tempted to breath a sigh of relief and slump into a heap underneath your desk for a week while you recover.
Unfortunately, your time to relax isn’t here just yet – there’s a mountain of follow-up tasks to be done, and it’s up to you to make sure they happen. If you resist the temptation to move on and you put in the effort to follow-up thoroughly, you’ll learn more and be better prepared for the next event.
1. Thank you
Although you probably feel like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders during the planning process of an event, you know that a team of people make the final product come together. Sending or offering thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of your event will add a pleasant conclusion to their experience and hopefully get them looking forward to your next event.
A thank you for attendees is a good way to show your appreciation, as well as reminding them of the highlights of their experience. If you leave a week or two in-between the event and your thank you message, you’ll be providing a timely reminder.
You may want to send thank you messages to your suppliers, caterers, performers, venue managers, guest speakers or sponsors, if they apply. As you prepare for the event, keeping a list of people who have contributed will make this follow-up process much easier.
Where applicable, you’ll also want to go back to your client and/or your team, and thank them for their input. Showing your client that you appreciate their business and enjoyed the experience will encourage them to work with you again, and leave them with a good impression. Similarly, you can leave your team with a sweet conclusion by showing them how much you appreciate their work, and by acknowledging their individual contributions.
A thorough review of the event at its conclusion can be helpful in determining what worked and what didn’t. You can use a review process to step back from the event and look at it with your (or your client’s) aim or goals in mind, and assess how well you achieved them.
A debrief can be helpful if you are planning an event for a client, or if you are working with a team of people. Getting everyone’s thoughts and opinions on the table post-event can open up discussions, uncover hidden issues and help you to generate ideas for improvement next time around.
Just because your event is over doesn’t mean your communication with attendees has to be. You can keep delivering quality content to your audience with multiple online channels and extend the life of your event and its message.
Any content that you didn’t get to use during the event can be published post-event, or you can repurpose content that you did use. You may have collected content during the event as well, like photos or video recordings. These can be used post-event to continue the engagement of your attendees and show the parts of your event that they might have missed.
You may also be able to create some post-event content, like a follow-up email newsletter with event highlights, or a Facebook photo album of attendees.
Since the conclusion of your event is not the end of your connection to your attendees, you can continue to promote your products and services to them after they leave. In fact, this may be the best time to do so.
If your attendees are on a high from enjoying the event and what they learned, they will be much more receptive to promotional messages about complimentary services or products, merchandise, or information about your next event. Don’t let this opportunity go overlooked—if you wait until months after the event to follow up with further promotion, you’ll lose these positive emotions that could work in your favor.
5. Follow-up on yourself
No doubt you’ll have come across a variety of things during the event that need to be followed up afterwards. Doing this as soon as possible will help you tie up loose ends before moving on to a new project. Having your notes and ideas still fresh in your mind will make this process easier and more effective, so get onto it as soon as you can.
Before your event begins it’s a good idea to keep this in mind, so you’ll be prepared to make notes as you go in a central place where they are easy to find and follow up afterwards.
It’s also important to get feedback from others about your event as soon as you can. Handing out, posting or emailing feedback forms to your attendees, guest speakers and venue staff can promote open discussion about what worked and what needs tweaking for next time.
Once the important details are worked out, taking some time to reflect can give you a clear overview of the event as a whole and how effective it was. We all want to learn from each project we take on, so this step is important.
Think about what you learned and what you would do differently next time, so you can take these lessons back to your team or company. You may also want to sit down with your client after reflecting on the event and share your ideas with them.
Making plans to change your approach for next time is an important step in the process of improving your work, so treat this one seriously and use it to your advantage.
What else do you do post-event? Let us know in the comments.