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Vecta Consulting
  Vecta on Events Management
  Events, whether or not they involve physical attendance, are a key component in internal and external communications.

Working with groups, from persuading them all to read a key email to convincing them to interact fully in a 3-day off-site conference, requires attention to the multiple and varied needs of the participating individuals.

The larger the group, the more significant and diverse will be the distractions, however compelling the agenda.

Professional event management begins with the business objective and degree of interactivity required which leads to the desired participation and choice of channel.

Where significant interactivity is needed over more than a single issue, physical attendance will almost certainly be required and the more complex the agenda, the more time will be required and more attention to motivation, to stimulate both attendance and attention.

Actions before, during, and after the event can be just as important as the time spent together and can be balanced so as to minimise unproductive time.

Smart use of LinkedIn and/or FaceBook before the event can help to promote the event and engage the potential audience. During the event, use of a distinctive Twitter #tag provides a powerful tool for real-time interaction, especially if combined with a Twitter wall - as long as those chairing the sessions pay attention to it.

Long before the event: not only must venue, timing, and duration of the event be considered alongside budget considerations but time should be spent on sorting out what can be done off-line before or after the event to minimise the time and cost of the event itself.

Before the event: support workload intensifies to promote the event including facilitation of travel plans, collection of dietary and other concerns; procure or produce collateral materials from agendas to slideshows, videos, posters, and - perhaps - functional or trivial mementos of the event; and to keep everyone informed on status and work being done to resolve unresolved issues. This time should also be used to complete actions needed before the plenary sessions begin and to communicate orientation material.

At the event start: efforts to keep track of possible travel disruption while getting people checked in, orientated, and settled pay dividends in terms of minimised disruption to the agenda. Hard copy summaries of key orientation material should be made available.

During the event: much can be done to maximise the productive time of the delegates by ensuring that they are well informed and do not waste time individually trying to find out answers to issues that are best addressed collectively; and by providing a good mix of plenary, group and individual activity time with a flexible balance between business and leisure activity.

At the event end: capturing and communicating agreed action points and unresolved issues should be the focus so that delegates leave with a hard copy summary and receive more detail within a day or two of the event so they are able to communicate authoritatively and effectively with others.

Afterwards: there are message reinforcement opportunities and learnings for follow-up or future events.

Rarely will any company have the available resources to handle all their communications needs and most would question whether maintaining these resources on-staff is value-effective. While many companies have recognised the value of Marketing and PR consultants to communicate externally, few have yet realised the value of external support for interactively refining business strategy while aligning the efforts of staff with that strategy.

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