In my head my first event would be a conference too, but, when I think about the logistics and the moving parts and the amount of people I'd have to cater for, an intimate event sounds so much better. We all have lofty ideas and goals when we're launching anything. The bigger the better. But that old adage doesn't always transfer to a live event. Planning an event is serious business and if you don't start small, you could be setting yourself up for some problems.
1. Budget. Can you afford to cater a live event for 50 people? The only way to know this is to put it all on paper, add up the numbers and see if the numbers are within your budget. And here's the follow up question once you’re done with all of that. Can you sell 50 tickets? I've surveyed my audience and their biggest pain point when planning a live event is selling tickets. In the event that something goes wrong, you are financially responsible. Are you ready for that? If the answers to these questions are no or at the very least, iffy, trust your gut and your pockets.
2. Content. Is your content for the masses or is it for a select few? There's nothing worse than going to a conference and the content is general, to say the least. Because it's so many people, they have to make the keynote and other speakers' presentations, general, so that it appeals to everyone. In 2018 and 2019, I realized the breakout session trend. Just in case you don't know, a breakout session is usually about the size of a workshop, and the content is very specific. Because the general sessions are so, well, general, organizers incorporated workshop ideas into their events. These ideas include hands-on training, software training or a deep dive into a particular topic. If your content is in any of these areas, stay small.
3. Educator. Who do you have in mind for your educators? Your content and educators go hand in hand. So if your content will be specific and niche, your educators will likely be also. Usually, niche speakers are better able to connect with a smaller audience. And because their topic is so specific, the intimacy that a small group provides, allows them to answer specific questions, or provide the support that someone may need in that moment. This is not possible at a larger conference. If this is the kind of impact you want at your event then you need a start small.
4. Location. Where do you want to host your event? This is a big question because your venue usually takes up to 25% of your overall budget. If your initial thought is a low key area, then you're already planning a smaller event in your head. Usually workshops and retreats tend to be in non busy areas. That's a strategic decision because most attendees who gravitate to those types of events are paying for the time to be away from the hustle and bustle of life and or their business. Being in an area conducive to learning or relaxing will make sense if you’re planning a workshop or retreat. Not saying that you can't hold a workshop in a larger city, but if someone is coming to learn, they may be more interested in a calmer environment.
5. Meals. Do you want to provide a food experience for attendees as well? If the area where you want to host your event is rich in culture and tradition and that translates to the area's cuisine and you want to share that experience with your attendees, you need to plan a small event. Think fresh seafood if you're in the Northeast, Southern classics in the south, Mexican in Texas and Southern California. I talk a lot about the attendee experience and how that starts in the very beginning of your planning. When you're laying out your vision and theme on paper, these little nuances of creating an attendee experience will come up. This is when you'd know you're already planning a small scale event because making little things like those possible at a conference, isn’t always possible without a big budget.
6. Other activities. What activities do you have planned for your attendees? For retreats, organizers plan nature hikes, yoga on the beach, etc. What makes sense for your event? Do you want to have a photoshoot with the llamas at your local llama farm? That actually sounds like a cool idea, I'll take note of that. I think of my friend Cinnamon, cool name right!, who lived in Seattle. She hosted a small event for her mastermind and they used one of the days to explore the area. You can't do that with 50 people. It will look odd. I'd even venture out to say that you might get a few looks and whispers too. When you're planning your live event you just have to remember that it needs to make sense. The different elements in the event, needs to make sense for the type of event you're hosting.
It walks you through each planning element from A to Z.