This blog post about event theme & concept is the first subpart of my How to Growth Hack an Event Guide. Make sure you read it! This post takes a conference I organized in March 2015 as an example.
The first part of organizing a successful event is defining its purpose: your event theme.
Choose Your Theme
You must indeed come up with an interesting topic that also allows you to target your audience easily. In my case, with Ecommerce, I was by essence targeting business & tech enthusiasts. Applying that to student curriculums at HEC Montréal meant targeting students in Marketing & I.T. majors. To create more buzz around it and also for my own interest, I added an entrepreneurship twist to it by naming it “Start a company & grow in Ecommerce”. I had my target audience.
What I describe above is an ideal case, often times you’ll have to adapt your theme to your speakers expertise. For MTL+ECOMMERCE that takes place every month, we don’t always have a theme but we sure try as it is easier to promote & more professional!
Once the theme for the event decided, it’s time to think about its content. Since the format of the event I take as an example included a conference, I had to find amazing speakers from cool & sexy companies. I can’t underline enough how important this part is! The majority of your attendees will buy tickets and (really) come for some specific speaker they want to hear & the topics they’re experts in.
Secure Your Speakers
For CCE’s conference, here were our speakers and how we found & approached them. Charles Brun, was quite easy to approach for me since we co-organize MTL+ECOMMERCE on a monthly basis. The next two speakers, Yannick Bédard then VP – Digital Strategy at SID LEE (a well-known Montreal agency) and Mathieu O’Connor who is a unique entrepreneur, were approached by other members of the team thanks to their network (also key to organizing a great event). I had met our fourth speaker Ethan Song, CEO of the rising startup Frank & Oak for lunch during the previous fall but didn’t grab his contact info. But luckily, I have my own special techniques to find anyone’s email address!
Once you have your dream speakers’ email addresses, you will then have to contact them and make sure to convince them to come talk at your event. Some convincing points I’ve used to attract awesome speakers at no cost:
- Tell them what other great speakers you’ve had before them
- Tell them a speaking spot “just opened up”
- Tell them how many people come every time
- Tell them about your great sponsors
- They will get visibility in all your promotion campaigns
- Pointing out the fact that your crowd would make perfect customers for their product/service
- They will get a backlink from your website
- They will get to give back to the community
You will also have to make sure the people you want to have as speakers are available on the date you plan to have your event. Once they confirm, you’ll have to define a topic for their presentations that goes with you event theme & concept which is going to be a lot of back-and-forth. Also, unless you have seen your “candidates speakers” speak before, I suggest you pre-screen them via Skype and ask them for their presentation in advance. In an ideal world, you want to have speakers of different styles and backgrounds as this will make your conference more dynamic and fun to attend. Also, make sure they come in advance on the day of the event and you have all details arranged prior to the event.
If you followed those guidelines, you should now have a better idea of how to come up with an event theme & concept as well as how to approach speakers, event if you don’t know them yet! This ideation part done and your event theme & concept defined, you should then think about the logistics of your soon-to-be success event to promote it the right away.