After your live event ends and the energy and excitement fade, you have two options. You can either jot down a few notes about an idea you have for next time (which you’ll likely lose) or you can hold a post-mortem meeting with all the decision makers from the event to create a comprehensive, actionable strategy.
Post-mortem meetings are just as valuable as the events themselves. If you don’t create a complete list of what went well and what didn’t, you’ll likely make the same mistakes at the next event and, more importantly, pass over opportunities for improvement.
Planning Your Meeting
Unfortunately, a post-mortem meeting held many weeks after the event with only half the needed participants won’t produce results. An effective meeting requires a quick response.
Timing your meeting can be difficult — especially when everyone involved with planning just finished pulling long nights for the past few weeks. To combat fatigue, you must make it clear to your team prior to the event that the post-mortem meeting is as much part of the event as the rest of the planning stages. Don’t let everyone exhale after the vendors pack up; until the post-mortem meeting is over, the event isn’t finished.
Planning cycles can also cause delays. Many times, clients don’t want to start planning for next year’s event until several months down the line. But waiting that long to apply what you learned this year is dangerous. Events are about details, and over time, details get lost in the shuffle.
Holding an Effective Post-Mortem Meeting
As you decide whom to invite to your meeting, think about a three-legged stool: production, client engagement, and creative. You can invite sales if you need relationship management present as well, but the first three must be there for the meeting to succeed in its purpose.
This should be a high-level meeting, so make sure everyone from directors to top executives are in attendance. Many managers and other employees make your event special, but to make analyses and enact change on a wider scale, you want people in the room with the power to effect those changes across your organization for next time.
Once everyone has gathered, you should cover five primary areas:
1. Strategic Analysis
Ask your team whether the event met its strategic objective. Did the company accomplish what it wanted to through this event? Everything at your event should work toward your goal. What felt extraneous, and how could you make it better next time?
2. Creative Performance
How did your creative teams translate the objectives into innovative, engaging content that was consistent with brand guidelines? Analyze everything from visuals to written content to music.
3. Attendee Engagement
Evaluate the metrics you collected at the event. Did attendees enjoy the speakers and experiential portions of the event? What did people gravitate toward, and what did they ignore? What compelled them to become advocates to drive your business forward?
4. Message Consistency
Did everyone leave the event understanding the company’s message clearly, or was there a breakdown in communication somewhere along the way? You can host a fun, engaging event, but if the message gets off track, you ultimately won’t further your objective.
5. Technology Utilization
Options for event technology are constantly evolving, so don’t lock in on one option you’ve used for years when better solutions are available. See what’s outdated, and determine whether the budget allows for improvements.
No matter how great your last event was, your next one could always be better. Don’t let the lessons you learned go to waste. When you make post-mortem meetings part of your event planning process, you’ll stay one step ahead of the competition.
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