Strategies to Maximize Value From Conferences and Events

A reader once asked me to write some articles about event management. Event management is largely about project management and check lists, but I would like to mention one aspect that tends to be overlooked. It pays event organizers to look beyond the immediate action items and pause to consider the bigger picture: the purpose or objective of the event being proposed.

The purpose of an event may seem to be a given. It may be a traditional event, a cyclical event, a special event, a festival or a celebration. Each of these may appear to have one key purpose.

Yet I am sure each event would have sub-themes and underlying purposes – we need to consider the several reasons for each event. Not only do we need to consider what the audience or attendees expect from the event, but we should also think of what we want from it.

For instance, my State PR association hosted a recent annual conference of our national body. Why? Because it is our turn. It was 7 years since we last hosted the conference. OK, that is probably the main reason. But underneath are several other reasons.

Our conference brought 40 speakers from around the country and overseas, giving us access to the people who had been involved in some of the most important communication events of recent times. Therefore, PR practitioners on this side of the country benefited from exposure to these speakers as well as other delegates from all around the nation.

Accordingly, probably the main aim of the conference was to strengthen the professional development opportunities for our members – to enable them to learn the latest. However, in support were several subsidiary aims:

  • To make a profit. The aim was to strengthen our financial position and enable us to engage in more adventurous professional development activities than we would have otherwise.  The very comforting knowledge is that 300 people signed up for our conference, which was very satisfying, and the conference made a profit of $40,000, which extremely satisfying as well.
  • To invite some important stakeholders. We invited some heavyweights from the business, media and political arena along to the keynote sessions on the first day of the conference, which enabled them to understand more about public relations.
  • To bring together potential members of our association so they were motivated to become members.
  • To create networking opportunities for attendees.
  • To have fun! We put on social activities that enabled delegates to enjoy themselves while they were here – especially those from interstate.

Each of these aims had several action steps attached that enabled us to maximize the outcomes from the event. The same strategy development can be undertaken for any type of event. Most events have a single overriding aim, but underneath are several supporting aims that the organizers could develop into definite beneficial outcomes.

The next time you organize an event, you can benefit by pausing to think about how you can ‘leverage’ the value of the event by purposefully developing subsidiary aims for it.

Photo by Carissa Weiser on Unsplash.

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