Today’s guest author is Tracy Barsotti, one of the organizers behind Speak to Me, a dynamic speaker series for San Francisco Bay Area women.
All event planners know that executing great events takes organization, attention to detail and logistical mastery. At Speak To Me, we believe it is equally critical to keep a laser focus on the big picture throughout the process as well!
One of the most important things we did when we designed Speak To Me was to listen. Before we planned a single event, we spent more than a year conducting small focus groups, surveys, and informal discussions with women throughout our community to find out what they would find the most interesting, inspiring and entertaining way to bring them together.
We already knew that women are busy, spread thin juggling a lot of responsibilities, and often put their needs last on the “to do” list. But it was through our conversations that we identified what women really crave – time for themselves, a break from their usual routine, time to be mentally stimulated, and, maybe most importantly, time connecting with other women.
During months of research we saw firsthand how gratifying and inspiring it is for women to engage each other in conversation about topics they care about. Whether they are old friends or have just met, women tend to derive energy from exchanging ideas and information with one another.
Soon, our initial concept evolved and morphed into a locally-focused event series tailored to the needs of our core audience. When we heard reactions such as: ““I really love these events – the intellectual stimulation, seeing and talking with friends – it’s so what I’ve been needing!”, we knew that our research was paying off.
Here are some of the key strategies we have learned along the way:
Know Your Audience: Who are you trying to reach? Take the time to find out everything you can about your core audience.
What do they really want to hear, see, and do? Design your program to meet their needs, not yours. What other commitments do your audience members have? Understand what kind of work, social engagements, major fundraisers, family activities or religious celebrations they might have and plan around them. Don’t make them choose!
Do Your Homework: There is a lot of noise out there – a lot of people talking – and you should be sure that you are delivering something attendees want to hear and haven’t already heard a hundred times!
One of the things we are most proud of at Speak To Me is the quality and relevance of the speakers we have booked for our events. This is no accident! We worked for months to understand what topics most resonated with our audience. Then, we worked hard to find the experts that would deliver the most compelling, informative and eye-opening perspectives on these issues.
Prepare Your Talent: We learned last year that we have a smart, savvy and engaged audience, and the more we can work with our speakers to make sure they understand who they will be speaking to and what the audience expects, the better.
We select speakers who we believe will impact our audience on a variety of levels, so that they can get the most out of the talks. Our goal is that every attendee walks away with meaningful takeaways that apply to their lives – this could be new information, a new perspective, or inspiration to do something differently – ideally all three!
Aim to Please: We all know that you can’t make everybody happy all the time, but you can stack the deck in your favor! Make sure that your event has something in it for everyone who attends. Consider each and every detail of your audience’s experience from start to finish. Take every effort to ensure that they have many pleasant experiences throughout the event, so that if one element is not to their liking, they will still be glad they came!
Enjoy Yourself: When you have worked hard to deliver a compelling event with a stellar presenter, great partners and a room full of dynamic people, don’t forget to look around and enjoy the event yourself. You deserve it!
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