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Recommendation: Jason Williscroft on how to run an event that doesn’t suck

Williscroft outlines his process for running a good quality (online) event or meetup, giving detailed examples and explaining his reasoning. Sample below. Recommended.

I’m a software engineer by trade, and I won’t pretend to possess some arcane secret about running great events. But if RINGKNOCKER taught me ANY important lesson about hosting events, it’s this one:

>> Brilliance is a nice-to-have. NOT SUCKING IS ESSENTIAL!

If your event is competently organized and offers the occasional small flash of brilliance, many attendees will return for more, and bring friends to boot! But if your event can’t get out of its own way, it won’t matter how brilliant your content is: most attendees will never darken your door again.

I can’t help you be brilliant. That’s on you. But what I’m going to share here is a template for creating and operating an event—more properly, a series of events—that is virtually guaranteed not to disappoint. It’s a pretty good formula that you can easily build on in whatever ways make sense.

The Format

The most important thing you should know about an event format is: YOU SHOULD HAVE ONE!

>>An event without a format is just a meeting without an agenda.

But what’s a format?

Simply put, an event’s format is a plan for the event, expressed in units of time. For example, every episode of Saturday Night Live follows this exact format. The format is so consistent that, in 45 years of weekly run time, the show only deviated from its published format nine times.

A Word About Timing

Your event schedule is a PROMISE to your attendees.

This is non-negotiable! Remember that YOUR event is just ONE event in everybody’s day. It is VERY easy to run over time. Do NOT run over time! If your event is scheduled to run from 12-1:30pm, then END IT at 1:30pm… no matter what time you actually started… whether you have completed your agenda or not!

There are two reasons behind this iron-clad rule:

Trust. If 40 people show up for a 90-min event, then you are the custodian of 60 man-hours of collective time. If time is money and your attendees are professionals, then that time has a market value of THOUSANDS of dollars! Are you worthy of that? Then show them that THEIR time is more important than YOUR show.

>>Prove you respect the value of your attendees’ time, and your attendees will reward you with more of it!

Showmanship. NO event is just exactly long enough. EVERY attendee will either leave wanting more, or wish he had left sooner. You want MORE of the former, and LESS of the latter.

>>On the event clock, less really is more!

Take another look at the RINGKNOCKER agenda above. The event is 90 minutes, but I have planned for 87 minutes of content precisely so I can screw it up for three whole minutes and still come in under the wire.

Running on for an extra minute is effortless. Recapturing a lost minute is hard. Plan accordingly!

Jason Williscroft – How to Run an Event That Doesn’t Suck

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