Knowing your true objective and beginning with the end in mind dictates the rest of the planning process. Narrow thinking and siloed communication can inhibit success.
- Before you start anything, deeply consider how you want to finish. This is some great advice my mother always gave me growing up. She was a big fan of Stephen Covey and the concept of beginning with the end in mind. He puts it like this. "To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now, and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction." As you set out to begin planning your first virtual event, it's important to know the why before you plan out the how. As an industry, we've been incorporating an online or livestream component to our events for quite some time. This has been well established as a useful event tactic with solid ROI, but our industry is now at a turning point where many event professionals are considering a virtual-only approach for the first time. Although virtual events may be new to you, planning events is likely not. Events are used to either generate leads, drive revenue, build awareness, or deliver content. And as we begin, it's critical to note that virtual events require the same strategic approach that in person events do, and it all comes down to alignment. Your event objectives must be aligned with the overall strategy of your organization. In other words, proper meeting design serves as the critical link between an individual event and your organization's larger goals and objectives. It's highly unlikely that an event will deliver results, make a positive impact, and leave a lasting impression on your stakeholders without being tied to this larger purpose. Events are simply the catalyst, the tactic. They are the how, not the why. Adopting this strategic approach will equip you with the clarity needed as you begin outlining your virtual program. But a virtual event needs to not only be purpose driven, but also people focused. So you also need to begin with the end in mind for your organization and your attendees. What do I mean by that? You have to think about how you want your attendees to feel at the end of your event. You need to understand the mindset and underlying motivation of your attendees. Make sure you truly understand why they are taking the time to show up, or in the case of virtual, to log in to your event. I guarantee it's because they want to be different somehow. Your job is to understand who they are today, what they want to achieve, and what they need in order to undergo that personal transformation, and make sure that every moment of your virtual event helps them close that gap. So to begin with the end in mind means sculpting a strategic plan for your event that will help drive the intended outcomes for both your organization as a whole and your event attendees. When you put these clear goals at the center of your planning process from the beginning, it will serve as a roadmap for the entire decision-making process. It will help you choose the right technology, the most relevant content, the right people for your cross-functional team, and the proper engagement strategies to make your event truly exceptional.