Written by Paige Dawson
Recently, I penned a blog on insights from 24 Women in Technology winners. I attended the annual Dallas Business Journal event to support a friend and client, Dr. Patricia Connolly of SMC Squared. (Read about her here…she is a rock star.)
In today’s blog, I’ll share my event execution takeaways from that same event…some great ideas to add into your next event program. Over my 25-year career, the number of events, luncheons, receptions, seminars, conferences, etc. that I’ve attended well hits the several thousand range. As event production and management fall into our agency wheelhouse as well, I’m constantly watching and making note of what works and doesn’t from an attendee perspective.
This year’s Dallas Business Journal event for the Women in Technology Awards was one of the best produced awards events that I’ve attended in years. In fact, the DBJ’s Women in Business luncheon last year was probably the second best one—and an entirely different format…so DBJ is really upping the game for event quality and variety.
Dozens of round tables with full meal table settings for lunch or dinner and servers about for plated meal service.
Emcee welcome and judges, sponsors, dignitary host of name recognition and courtesy audience claps.
Possibly a keynote speaker.
One winner announced; audience claps; emcee reads bio; winner accepts award with thank you laundry list of names; audience claps; winner stands for photo on stage; exits.
REPEAT winner sequence, again and again and again.
Emcee closes, crowd leaves, takes goody bag, etc.
In this recent event, DBJ turned that event process upside down and with great results.
Pre- & Post-Event Smart Networking Time: To combat the known enemy (aka Dallas rush hour traffic) the event held both pre- (4-5 pm) and post- (6-7 pm) event networking reception time with food and drink service. The pre-time provided nice casual chats before the event commenced while the post-time allowed for more personal congratulations chats and intros. (And, I’m positive the valet and parking attendants felt some relief from the pace change.)
Presentation Approach: To break up the monotony of recognizing 24 women for the same award category, along with 3 main sponsors, DBJ did its advance planning work and natural skill for content curation.
And, our evening parting gifts were just as smart—digital phone related items with the sponsor logos on them (after all it’s all about women in technology). One sponsor provided a ring stand and another a phone sanitizer wand. What was nice about this ending is that instead of bags to hand out or monitor, along with paper that would be tossed in the garbage, the attendees simply could pick up a gift or two from the goody table and baskets by the exit. It was honor system so I’m sure that some took none, some took more, and it worked out in the end.
I’m eager to see how the DBJ and other organizations up their games the rest of this year and beyond.
Oh…and for those of you running charity events, I picked up a great idea from this Spring’s Can Do Luncheon that benefited the Wilkinson Center. The attendees who purchased the table centerpiece as a donation item received “priority valet service.” I can promise no flowers were left as navigating valet with 300+ attendees is a game indeed.