If you’re planning your next NSM, here are 7 best practices from our team to yours:
- Spend the time and resources to create a powerful event theme/brand. A meaningful, well executed and consistent NSM theme/brand captures the essence of your vision and goals for the upcoming year and rallies the troops behind them in tangible ways.
- Choose a venue that can truly support your needs. Some venues look great on the website and have everything you need on paper, but have little or no experience with an event of this kind. That could lead to problems with everything from A/V to simple things like shipping and receiving mix-ups. When evaluating venues, be sure to ask detailed questions about the logistical support they can provide at every stage of your NSM.
- Choose a partner that has been there before. If you have the budget, consider working with an agency or event management firm that has direct experience planning and executing an NSM end to end. It allows you to lean on the expertise of a team that has learned best practices in the trenches and knows how to put out fires at primetime.
- Invest in a dedicated NSM app. Some great platforms have emerged in recent years that allow you to skin a pre-built mobile app template with your event brand and populate it with agendas, speaker bios, keynote presentations and other related content. Many of these platforms also have built in social media elements that allow attendees to share posts and check in to sessions, among other activities. It eliminates the need to produce physical event collateral and gives all attendees everything they need to know about the event in one user-friendly digital format. Two of these platforms we like are Guidebook and DoubleDutch.
- Over-communicate with attendees. As the event approaches, make sure that attendees have all the information relevant to them or know how to get it. Be very clear and repetitive about event registration details, agendas by group and the responsibilities of vendor reps. Always assume that everyone knows nothing about the NSM and over-communicate accordingly.
- Have a solid plan for the inevitable unregistered attendees. Let’s face it. There will always be a certain percentage of attendees that show up to your NSM without pre-registering. While it can be frustrating, keep in mind that the late comers are often critical team members or busy vendor VIPs (hence the disorganization) whose presence at the event is critical. Be sure to have a system in place for expediting registration and making their arrival as smooth as possible.
- Never expose behind-the-scenes challenges to the masses. It’s an old adage but a true one: Never let them see you sweat. Even if you are managing several small crises at once in the back room, perception of how the event is going is more important. Be sure there’s a hard firewall between behind-the-scenes scrambling and the attendee experience of the event. And it goes without saying that every member of your on-site execution team should understand this and keep their game faces on no matter what.