What are the secrets to successful Town Halls, Events, and Conferences?

Have you ever hosted a dinner party and worried about these two things; who will RSVP and will everyone have a good time? The same concerns can be found when organizing professional meetings. Will people show up (if it's optional, not mandatory)? Will they participate eagerly or roll their eyes?  'If I build it will they come? If they come, will they care?'
Secrets to successful town halls, events, and conferences

The feedback cycle surrounding events can be confusing for organizations. Often, most of the focus goes into the before -- namely, the planning of the event. Checklist: make sure the speakers are on-message, the presentations are attention-drawing, and the logistics are nailed down, etc.. Many organizations have entire departments dedicated to event planning, to handle the myriad of details.

Pre-planning is obviously crucial -- no one attending an event, be it a massive conference or a 30-minute webinar, wants their time wasted. Gathering authentic feedback is crucial before, during and after events. Let’s channel Simon Sinek and ‘start with why.’

Why feedback is your secret weapon:
  • Before: Take the guesswork out of setting agendas by asking people what is most relevant to them. Glassdoor uses Waggl before every Town Hall, by simply asking their people what they want the CEO to talk about. Attendance and participation have gone up as a result. Trust grows when Leadership takes action and talks about what matters most to everyone.
  • During: Attention span is a delicate thing. Losing an audience to their e-mails or other distractions ("Squirrel!") zaps meeting effectiveness -- and could impact future attendance. TED conference planners have done excellent work in the ‘during’ stages of event pulse-taking. Keep engagement high by checking in with people in real-time.
  • After: In simple terms: to make the next event better. You can’t grow without feedback -- what worked and what needs improvement.

After understanding why gathering feedback is important leads to the next step -- how

Here are a few simple secrets (not so secret - this is a blog post, after all):
  • Ask attendees what topics they’d like discussed at the next event
  • Get feedback on what seemed to be most lacking at the most recent event
  • Listen to their suggestions for guest speakers, agenda topics, and other improvement ideas.
  • Take action.  If it's doable and aligns with your overall strategy...do it.  If it's not doable, at least address it.  You might not be able to offer free unicorn rides at the next company offsite, but if that was the top-ranked response, it's worth a conversation.  (side note: no data on free unicorn rides, but guessing they would be cost-prohibitive) 

To learn more about how Glassdoor and Advanced Learning Institute use Waggl for successful Town Halls, Events, and Conferences, contact us: [email protected]

(Actually, planning a dinner party might be more stressful than organizing a Town Hall.)