Starting at the initial discovery phase, through mid-production pivots, and to onsite execution, many nuances are involved in balancing a client’s wants and needs while planning and executing an event. During an education session at InfoComm 2023, our experts discussed how to skillfully bridge the gap between a client's dreams and the final execution of a successful event. These are their insights you can apply to your next live, hybrid, or virtual event.
The panel was led by moderator Will Curran, Chief Event Einstein for Endless Events, and included Beth Surmont, Vice President of Event and Design for 360 Live Media; Megan Martin, Director of Partnerships and Events for SessionBoard; and Melissa Deslauriers, Professor of Production and Staging at Conestoga College.
In the education session entitled Balancing Clients’ Wants and Needs While Planning and Executing Events, the panel discussed leveraging interpersonal skills with clients, defining the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the event, and selecting appropriate technology.
“There are so many decisions that have to be made to produce a well-functioning event and I think there comes a point where planners get decision paralysis,” Martin said, expressing that trying to meet clients’ high expectations can lead to decision paralysis.
But increasing your clients’ delight doesn’t have to come at the expense of increasing the budget when you leave some space for innovation from the beginning. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single time, but leaving room for innovation will help you incorporate new ideas and have a more structured approach.
“We’ll say, ‘Here’s our absolute.’ And then, ‘Here’s space at the end of the RFP for you to show your value proposition. What ideas are you gonna bring to the table that is our 5-10% of surprise and delight?’” said Martin.
“One thing we focus on when we respond to RFPs is getting to the ‘why’ behind everything. The magic question is: what [is the client] trying to accomplish? When they say, ‘every table needs a microphone,’ but why? What’s the point of that? How can we design that to meet your ‘why’? And I do love the idea of always having space for innovation, too,” Surmont said.
“Everything in writing is really helpful, too, especially if you’re doing a Zoom meeting and a detail gets talked about. The more that you can get it in writing, the more that you’ll make sure that there’s no detail missed,” added Curran.
The panel also discussed roadblocks to success. A challenge that can arise is that clients can get stuck on specific details or aesthetics. For example, when a client sees a rendering and mentions that they don’t like the blue color and want it to be orange, they are focusing on technicalities that can be changed later instead of looking at the bigger picture first. Our panel discussed how to work around this obstacle.
“We present our work with a story behind it. First, we’ll show you in black and white to make sure you like what it looks like in black and white. Then, we’ll say, ‘Blue has origins of trust, and other companies are using this shade of blue, or competitors are using orange, so you should use this blue to be different.’ When I talk about people coming into a room, I’ll talk about how we want them to feel when they walk into the room, what we want them to say,” said Surmont.
Additionally, the panel expressed that scheduling a post-event meeting helps you escape the risk of ‘rinse and repeat.’
Some key takeaways from this educational session included:
- Incorporating space in your planning for innovation from the start,
- Getting to the ‘why’ behind everything
- Writing everything down so details are less likely to be missed
- Presenting your work with a story
- Scheduling a post-event meeting to avoid the risk of ‘rinse and repeat.’
What educational sessions did you attend during InfoComm ’23, and what were some of your key takeaways?