If there’s time to mingle before the program starts, can you introduce people to get conversations and relationships started in pairs or small groups? Food and drinks are a good way to support this.
Having designated greeters and/or members who’ve agreed to welcome newcomers are good tactics. A welcome table is a great place for this, and also a good place to put fliers or schwag like stickers.
The beginning is when you bring people together, set intentions and goals, and convey the agenda.
It may include:
A welcome statement by one of the hosts, including your group’s mission
Group acknowledgement of norms, agreements, or logistics for the time together
Introducing guests and newcomers
A thank-you to sponsors
An ice-breaker activity, potentially involving mingling
The middle is when the magic can happen. Once people are together and oriented, you help the group do what you came here to do.
It may include:
Topics of conversation
Generative work sessions
Consider whether and how you'll document what happens. Are you recording it? Is anyone taking notes? Will you debrief at the end?
Check-in with people. Are people getting what they want and expected? Adjust on the fly if needed.
If you have a heterogeneous group, run break-out discussions so people can find the conversations and people that are most useful/fruitful for them. (See more on unconferences).
The end is when you bring people together to close your time together, and also set intentions for the future.
It might include:
Sharing learnings and insights, debriefs
Celebration of what was done or accomplished during the event
Discussing next steps and setting intentions
Final announcements and thank-yous
For virtual events, perhaps offer to host breakout rooms at the end to continue threads of conversation or just hang out in small groups to talk (2-4 people).
Saying goodbye as people leave
Make sure you have final copies of any presentations and content presented at the event.
Document and store anything else that came from the event (photos, meeting minutes, brainstorm notes, whiteboards, chat logs)
If group leaders stick around after events, this is a great time to plan some of the basics for the next event.
Pay attention to other members who stick around: See if they’re interested in helping clean-up and if they might be interested in helping to host the next event.
This communication can be helpful for both people who attended and your audience/ members who didn’t.
Follow-up quickly. If you’ve recorded videos from the event, try to polish and upload them within 24 hours.
Celebrating how awesome your recent event was can be the best marketing for your next event. If that next event is already planned, let people know about it.
Send individual follow-ups based on the conversations and connections you made.
Thank presenters. Perhaps ask if they'd like to present in the future.
Consider sending a post-event survey.
Follow-up specifically with new people. Ask how their experience was.