Super Bowl Sunday: Prepping Your Team for Your Big Game (Annual Meeting)
“One thing that can never be sacrificed is your preparation and your work ethic”
— Peyton Manning
Finally, it’s Super Bowl Sunday! The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are going head-to-head for the title of Super Bowl Champions. This is it – the day they’ve all been waiting for. But, they haven’t just been waiting; they’ve been preparing. Constantly. Every second of the upcoming game has been discussed. Backup plans have been lined out. Replacements have been trained.
Major events, like the Super Bowl, don’t just happen overnight. Extensive planning and preparation are necessary for major events to be successful. They don’t happen because of one person, either. They are carried out by multiple people working cohesively. When you begin planning your next annual meeting, get in the mindset of Super Bowl contenders and you will be on the path to success.
- Run your own plays and assist your teammates. Each team member should have their assigned “plays” or tasks. Delegate everything. If every person has assigned tasks – and everyone else knows who is in charge of what – you can practice, assist and improve. In addition, you are more likely to hold yourself accountable if everyone else is holding you accountable, too. You should have one person in charge of registration, hotel, and transportation, audio-visual and technical, presenters, etc.
- Always have a backup quarterback you can rely on. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong — Murphy’s Law will come true during your event. Have emergency response plans to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster or catastrophic event. If your event is scheduled outdoors, make sure there is an indoor alternative. Presenters are known for being late or being no-shows; have backup presenters available (maybe offer them free admission to come as back-ups).
- Run your plays over and over before the big day. Be familiar with everything event-related and control the environment of your event. Do several walk-throughs to determine problematic areas and to familiarize yourself with where everything is. Get security ropes and directional markers to create a smooth flow. Adjust the layout if needed based on these walk-throughs. Make sure the temperature is comfortable and have access to adjust the temp as needed. Lighting should be adequate for the events in that room. AV needs to be tested multiple times and someone with extensive knowledge should be ready on site to help with issues.
- Don’t just physically prepare, mentally prepare. Prepare your team, personally. Go through tips on what to pack and wear during the event. Some teams will utilize uniforms – whether head-to-toe uniforms or matching shirts, these can help attendees identify the team members. If you don’t have a full-fledged uniform, offer tips on what to wear, like dark clothing or items with pockets. Suggest they bring business cards for networking and notebooks for attending events. While your team is there to execute the event, allow them time to enjoy the conference, too. Finally, set ground rules for the team. For example, if alcohol will be served, set a limit for team members. If there is free time during the event, set limits on where they can go and when they need to return. The less you leave for interpretation, the more structured your event will be.
- Use the theme to gain attention. When preparing for the Super Bowl, they don’t talk about “two football teams.” Instead, they push the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. So, push the theme. Use it anywhere and everywhere. From the decorations to the session titles, the theme should be ubiquitous. “Your conference theme anchors and shapes all visual aspects of your event, including logos, apparel, giveaways and other graphic representations of your event,” according to Christina R. Green, a writer for associations and businesses, on EventMB.
Now, we’ve gone through the basics of preparing your team. Almost. This would have been it a decade ago, but now, the millennial generation has entered the workforce and created a whole new aspect to your annual event. Social media.
Social media is the most effective way to attract and retain the millennial generation to your association. You must incorporate social media – into as much as you can. Create a Twitter hashtag campaign and use it everywhere. Did you know that tweets with hashtags receive two times more engagement than those without? Post on Facebook and have attendees do the same. Invite local bloggers and media to the event. We are in the digital age and in order to keep your association strong, you need to do what it takes to get the next generation on board.
Preparing for your event is a daunting task that must be fulfilled. Associations who do not adequately prepare end up with lackluster events filled with problems and unhappy attendees. Take the time to prepare and you will end up with a successful event and attendees excited for future events. Just like Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback and 2013 Super Bowl champion, said, “The separation is in the preparation.