Marketing + Communications

We can do better: elevating the standards of professional events

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months here at Luma Towers. In May alone, we attended 15 networking events, two awards dinners, delivered two round table discussions, and hosted a webinar. June looks equally packed, reflecting the pre-COVID levels of bustling activity in the event space.

With all the mad dash comings and goings, I’ve had some thoughts percolating about the events. Many of them have been great, with the conversations and presentations lively and astute. But I can’t help but feel like we’re not getting it quite right.

Folks, I think we can do better.

Acoustics matter

One of the biggest issues we’ve encountered is poor acoustics. These events are professional gatherings where people need to hear each other clearly, as well as the speakers. Increasing the volume isn’t the solution; instead, it’s about quality sound management. If you’re not sure how to achieve this, get the right people on board to help. Poor sound can ruin an event and can throw a spanner in the works for both the speakers and the audience.

Food matters

The quality, quantity, and timing of food at events can’t be overlooked. Wheeling out half-decent food to 500 attendees isn’t impossible. We’ve seen it done, and done well. If you’re hosting a breakfast event for 100 people, having only two people and one coffee machine won’t suffice. You need to serve 100 cups of tea or coffee within a 15-minute window. Do the math and ensure you have the necessary resources and people to help you smash this out the park.

Again, you might be thinking that food is a cheeky bonus to these events, a little accoutrement to the main event you’ve sunk all your time and effort into. But believe me… it matters. If you cock it up, people will notice and they’ll talk about it. The last thing you want after a wonderful event is the whole thing having a dampener put on it because of the food.

Awards matter

The integrity and credibility of awards are the difference between attendees feeling proud to be nominated and feeling swindled by a transparent cash grab.

Participants invest significant time, money, and effort into their entries so genuine shortlistings are essential—don’t just list everyone who enters. This defeats the purpose of having a judging panel and only serves to make your participants feel deflated.

Provide feedback and ensure that the awards recognise true excellence, not merely those with large sponsorship budgets. Attendees want to know why the winners deserve their accolades, and what makes them best in class. Also, keep the number of categories manageable. At a recent event, we endured 29 award categories with up to 15 nominees each. It was excruciating, and poor acoustics only compounded the misery. Many attendees either got excessively drunk or left early.

When you’re cramming this many categories and shortlists in, you’re not fooling anyone. What’s more, you’ll be running the kind of event that people will attend once rather than a mainstay every year.

The so-what factor

Events like round tables and panel discussions can spark powerful conversations and inspire many. But what happens after the event? It’s crucial for organisers to facilitate ongoing engagement and momentum. Don’t let valuable ideas and discussions fizzle out after the event ends.

Follow up, make a plan and put those words into action. We want panel discussions and round tables to have an effect and for that to be the case, the round table itself is only the first step.

Quality over quantity

As someone who advises clients on which events and opportunities to invest in, often a year in advance, I can attest that quality is everything. If your awards are biased towards sponsors, you’ve devalued them, and we’ll advise clients to steer clear in the future. Compromised on catering, cleaning, or AV quality? We won’t return. If your conference is predictable and boring because panel spots were bought instead of earned by merit, it’s no longer a conference but a sales event.

This is why the commercial side of events and media must remain distinct from the editorial and content side. Organisations that maintain this separation, like Place North and others, will always have the edge.

The bottom line

To all event organisers out there, it’s time to step up our game. Let’s ensure that every event we host or attend is memorable for the right reasons. By paying attention to acoustics, food quality, award integrity, post-event engagement, and the true purpose of these gatherings, we can elevate our professional events to new heights.

Let’s do better, and make every event a brilliant one.

If you’re looking for a marketing powerhouse to help you elevate your game and reach your marketing goals, contact Luma Marketing today.

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