Event Delegates Underwhelmed

There is growing ‘evidence’ that event organisers are failing their clients. A Sharp study claims that 56% of attendees cite ‘poor content’ as a reason to grumble. MEDIAmaker reveal that 48% or respondents feel reluctant to participate in discussions.

Clearly something is going wrong.

As a speaker who is described as ‘participative and engaging’, I find it alarming that the research suggests that most delegates are not so much short-changed as unwilling participants.

Firstly, we need to recognise that the sponsors may have an agenda and may not have applied full scientific rigour to their study with respect to choice of respondents, questions and interpretation. However, we can always challenge the intellectual methodology.

The reality, which no-one can deny, is that not all delegates enjoy the event experience. Often, speakers and content are dreadful. As Sharp states, 61% of their study felt that meetings were too long and 56% cited poor speakers as reasons for their low opinion of such events.

Not all events are so dreadful. Careful selection and engagement of appropriate speakers, topics and themes can make an event insightful and inspiring. It requires some leg-work on behalf of the event organiser to do their homework and design and assemble a wow event.

The MEDIAmaker report does have a point. The fact is that many people do feel reluctant to contribute to discussions. Maybe it is 48%. Maybe more or maybe less. The point is that it is a big number. A consequence is that many events represent a significant waste of opportunities and resources.

I think that the reality is probably more of a bell curve scenario. Some events are simply dreadful. We’ve all been to a few like that. The majority, the rump of events, are OK: a bit lumpy and uneven with a few highlights but also a few lowlights. And then there are the precious few events that are simply stunning from start to finish. These are the events that we want to speak at, these are the events that we want our people to be attending.

So, is there some kind of fairy dust that event organisers sprinkle over a venue to make the magic happen? How does an event hit all the right buttons, tick all the right buttons and enthuse, excite and stimulate the audience… create an impact that spills over into the organisation a long time after the last happy sheet has been collected and counted?!

Is it simply about money? Employ the most expensive speaker at the best venue with the biggest costs?! I don’t think so. Or is it just luck?

I would suggest that great events do not happen by accident. They are designed to happen ‘with purpose, on purpose’. They are planned and executed with skill and creativity but always thinking of the delegate experience. After all, ‘Customer is King’.

As a speaker, you can feel when you are involved in what will be a great event. Of course, you can never guarantee perfection but you can up your chances of success by working with seasoned pros (from the event organiser to the staging and PA company to the venue to the merchandiser onwards).

All I can say is that one should compare an event with a rock ‘n’ roll concert. Bruce Springsteen always delivers. So do the Rolling Stones. This doesn’t just happen by accident. So what kind of a gig will your next event be? A success by design? Or, if you are incredibly lucky, a success by accident?