Check out this mashup using the from Benevolent Media Festival. The mashup allows attendees to see events happening during the festival on a map. It’s complete with search, filters and is powered by the Sched.org API. The mashup of Google Maps and festival data will make it easier for attendees to navigate activities happening in and around Washington, D.C.
To learn more about Benevolent Media Festival go here.
by Marvin McTaw
I recently came across a pretty common event marketing question: how do you get attendees to register early?
Its probably too late. Selling out your event early should probably be the last thing on your mind, regardless of your role within the event. You see, selling out your event begins with one simple thing that’s hard to do…
This might sound a little weird but the best way to get people to buy your tickets early, is focus on executing an excellent event. There are tons of studies and evidence which show attendees don’t pay attention to events until they need to. Simply put, your audience of potential attendees are busy and at this moment in time, your event isn’t important enough to them.
Make your event a can’t miss gathering and you will have no problem selling out your event early. For example, C3 Presents which puts on Lollapalooza and ACL, routinely sells out their ticket inventory…before even announcing the lineup for their music festivals! Attendees have come to know and respect the quality of their festival experience which means they don’t need to know all the details in order for them to take early action.
If you focus on the quality of the event you are putting on now it will become easier every year to sell your tickets/registrations earlier. This means you won’t have to rely on discounting which rarely works and adversely impacts the events financial situation.
The panels hosted by conferences and festivals are, by and large, pretty boring. The intentions are always good but the execution is so often terrible – and so the level of boredom during your average panel ranges from mildly yawn-inducing to excruciatingly dull. You can gauge the level of boredom by watching for the percentage of heads in the audience that are bowed down towards cell phones instead of looking up at the speakers. Granted there are always Twitter & text addicts in any crowd, but if a panel is doing its job then most of the audience should direct its attention to the front of the room, not towards the tiny screen hovering over its collective crotch.
The problem isn’t that panelists have nothing interesting to say, it’s that they are simply bad at saying it – and much of the blame should fall on the moderator. In the same way that a great film director can coax amazing performances from mediocre actors, a good moderator can shape a panel conversation into something both informative and entertaining. As with film, the bad moderators outnumber the good.
Personally I’ve only moderated a handful of panels, and I don’t claim to be great at it. But having participated in (and watched) dozens of panels over the years, I have been able to identify what good moderators do – and the things I strive to do when I’m entrusted with the success of a panel. There are plenty of other articles about “how to be a great moderator,” but they mostly boil down to “be prepared” and “don’t let the panelists introduce themselves.” Here instead are my favorite rules for making your panel experience memorable and fun.
1. Not everyone can be a great moderator.
Like any performance skill, moderation requires finesse and experience. Good moderators read the audience and the panelists and identify those opportunities where a quick word or a well-placed question can keep a panel on track or steer it in an exciting new direction. What you’re aiming for is conversational judo – redirecting the energy of the panelists and audience into something delightful for everyone, with a minimum of apparent effort on your part. If it’s your first time moderating, just concentrate on not embarrassing yourself by talking too much, and try to ask questions that will give all of the panelists an opportunity to speak.
2. A great moderator is (almost) invisible.
The worst moderator I ever saw began his panel by reading a post from his blog. A post that he’d printed out. On paper. And it was three pages long. His reasoning was that his blog post on the state of the industry would make a great springboard for comment by the esteemed panelists. The message? “I’m important. Talk about me.”
The audience left the room in droves.
As a moderator, you should be an authority on the subject of the panel, but the audience should only be able to tell that by your occasional comments and questions. Your role is to guide the panelists into an illuminating discussion of the topic at hand, not to display how smart you are. This isn’t to say that you can’t answer the occasional question, but you should only do so after you’ve given your panelists the opportunity to express that information or opinion themselves.
3. It’s a conversation, not a presentation.
Ideally your panel is a conversation between everyone in the room with a few noisy participants- the panelists. If you can’t manage that, try to encourage conversation between the panelists themselves. The dullest talks are those in which the moderator asks a question and the panelists go down the line, answering the question in turn. (Warning signs are phrases like “I agree with Jim, but I’d like to add… .”) Get the conversation going between the panelists by asking little “mini-questions” in between answers.
Expanding the conversation to include as many people as possible into the conversation is one of the best ways to convert a disaster into a triumph. When your panel has only a few attendees (as occasionally happens when you’re scheduled against a keynote speech or a celebrity appearance), turn off the microphones and invite the audience into the front row. A run-of-the-mill panel can become an intimate workshop that the audience will never forget – all because you had the presence of mind to adjust to the reality of the situation.
4. Whenever possible, start a fight.
This is my favorite piece of panel advice, and something I strive to do every time I’m participating on a panel. As humans we’re geared to tune into conflict. The audience loves it when sparks fly. Take advantage of that by finding ways to turn your panelists against one another. Not in a mean way, of course, but in a way that illustrates the honest differences of opinion between industry professionals. So long as those opinions are genuine and you stick to challenging ideas (rather than just making ad hominem arguments), encouraging panelists to butt heads is one of the best ways to turn ennui into excitement.
5. Pretend you’ve never met.
Having a meeting before a panel is standard operating procedure, but make sure it doesn’t alienate the audience. There’s nearly always a moment during a panel when a panelist will say: “Like Courtney said, before the panel… .” This makes the audience feel like they were excluded from the real conversation, which took place backstage. It’s one thing to be prepared, it’s quite another to make the audience feel excluded from the “real” conversation. Do your best to make sure the panelists never refer to a prior conversation, or the audience will feel like they’re missing out.
6. Be funny - or at least have fun.
Humor is key to a memorable conversation, but if you’re not a stand-up comic, don’t try to be one. Instead, listen to your inner voice of subversiveness and let it out where appropriate. If you’re having fun without being mean, the chances are that your panelists and audience will have fun too. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?
Extra credit reading: 10 Tips for Moderating a Panel by Jared at PornoKitsch.
Pay attention to tips 4, 5, and 10.
Finding the right venue, at the right price at the right time can be tough. MeetingsBooker.com makes it easy. I recently came across the site and was impressed by its ability to make the sometimes complex venue selection and booking process incredibly simple.
The site boasts almost 60,000 locations around the world and has particular strength in Europe. I loved the fact that while searching for venues I could find out exactly what they had available and explore alternatives I might not have considered.
MeetingsBooker.com is also free to search and has no booking fees. This means more money can go towards your event and it’s budget.
One of the other things MeetingsBooker has nailed it on is its simplified RFP process. You simply add your requirements and available venues get back to you by your deadline. It’s a pretty simple process and one most events would highly benefit from.
If you’re looking for a location for your next meeting, be sure to check out MeetingsBooker.com
Now you can directly add your Google Analytics tracking code to your Sched.org tools! Google Analytics is the premier website analytics tool used to track your website visitor’s behaviors. It’s an easy to use tool designed to provide you with objective measurement of attendee engagement with your event.
Our goal is to eliminate your event management headaches. One headache is not having objective measures of attendee engagement and interest in your event. If you don’t know what people are really interested in, then any action you take will be flawed. Google Analytics tracking coupled with the other Sched.org reporting capabilities helps to slay this particular problem.
To add your Google Analytics tracking code
Image: Add your Google Analytics Account code to your Sched.org tools to measure attendee activity and engagement with your event
Sign up for a free Sched.org site to view this and the other reporting capabilities.
All our product updates and partnerships are designed to eliminate your event management headaches and impress your attendees. We’ve now simplified the event management experience even further with our Admin Console re-design.
The specific goals of this re-design are to help you:
If you’d like to learn more or see the re-designed Admin Console in action, sign up free here.
by Marvin McTaw
Last week was huge for the business of social media with Facebook’s $100 billion IPO. The general excitement about the IPO was thrown a curveball when GM, the huge auto manufacturer, announced its decision to pull its entire $10 million Facebook Ads budget. GM’s decision was a result of what they deemed to be the low effectiveness of Facebook Ads for their business.
Many conferences and festivals feel they must be active on Facebook. They typically promote themselves in much the same way as GM: creating content and engaging Fans. The good part about a Facebook Fan page is that there is no upfront cost…but that doesn’t mean it is free. Although GM is pulling it’s $10 million advertising budget, they still spend $30 million a year generating content and maintaining their accounts. I imagine with most organizations it is the same.
Facebook Fan pages are by far and away the better choice if you’re looking to engage with attendees. Fan pages allow you to connect directly with your community and engage in conversations with them. You can also install Facebook Apps to your Fan page to engage your attendees even more.
I’ve increasingly seen conferences and festivals advertising on Facebook. While these ads may help in building awareness for events, GM’s decision throws into question the effectiveness of Facebook Ads.
While Facebook Ads can work, whether it is the best use of your limited marketing budget is an entirely different question. Ben Kunz of Businessweek Magazine summarizes it best:
Facebook can be a wonderful platform for both paid advertising and social communication. It is also extraordinarily difficult to fulfill its promise.
by Marvin McTaw
Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. It is being used in new and exciting ways every day. One of the more interesting ways I’ve seen it being used in the event space is to fund entire conferences!
Andy Baio and Andy McMillan’s are using Kickstarter to fund the XOXO festival in Portland, Oregon. One of the big benefits of using this funding platform is that it allows them to leverage the Kickstarter community to raise funds. The platform also helps to reduce their event management risks by providing a gauge for attendee demand.
Kickstarter could very well be the next big thing in finding resources to help put on your conference. It helps centralize funding and determine demand for your event. The one drawback: if you don’t meet your funding goal, you get nothing. This might cause some organizers to lose large deposits for venues and payments to speakers.
UPDATE: from Andy Baio, the festival founder
50 hours after launching, we’re sold out of conference tickets! Thank you! If you missed it, you can still grab the DIY Kit to experience some of XOXO at home. Or come out to the market, which will be open to the public on September 15-16.
I’ve talked a lot before about why Twitter chats are awesome, and how to get involved. Yesterday’s #Expochat is a great example of how you can both share great ideas as well as learn from awesome experts at the same time.
Yesterday’s topic was video marketing at and around events. There was a lot of knowledge shared that I highly recommend you go through and read, including promoting your event with video, what your attendees want to see (and more), but one link in particular stood out: once you’ve decided to do video at your event, how do you actually do it well? Watch this clip for great tips on making the best mobile video setup possible:
When it comes to having video at your event, what is more important to you: portability or professionalism? And do you have any homebrew tips on getting the most out of your event’s video?
Special thanks to Scott Lum for originally sharing this with the group.
Our primary goal is to eliminate your event planning headaches by making easy tools for you to use and providing great services to enhance your attendees’ experience.
Today we’re thrilled to announce a brand new partnership to help even more. Contstant Contact is a leader in helping organizers make their events less stressful and more affordable.
Now you can directly import attendees from your Constant Contact account into your Sched attendee directory and schedule. Connecting your Constant Contact account helps by:
If you haven’t already signed up for a Constant Contact account, go ahead and get started. For those of you who have, login to your event on Sched and import everything in just a few clicks:
We’ve talked about the importance of Twitter chats before—specifically what they are, and how to join them. In short, they’re a great way to stay connected to people in any industry, engage in great discussions on an array of topics, and hear what the smartest and most respected folks in a community have to say.
Here are just a few of our favorite weekly Twitter chats:
Do you join in any of the chats we mentioned? If not, what are some of your favorite Twitter chats? I’d love to join!