By Leslie Robertson, meetings architect and engagement consultant, Open Audience
We’ve all had that one call – the one that excites and challenges.
A recent one went as follows: “So we have an American biotech client with a Singapore regional office running a weekend workshop in Kuala Lumpur in four weeks time. They are supported by a media comms agency in Shanghai, China, using apps from an Indian software house and they need iPads configured and on site for 120 customers from across Asia Pacific.
“We also want some presentational interactive technology and we need it to run independently of location Wi-Fi because we want to minimise risk! Interested?”
After an immediate “Yes of course I can”, I did what every events professional does when they agree to deliver – I punched the air and smiled. This is my kind of event!
So how do you make this kind of event work?
You start with a plan, you set up conference calls, work out time zones, work out whether you are calling at the end or the very early start of your day. If I need someone from the States, India, Singapore and China on the call what is the optimum time slot to minimise disruption?
You project manage the hell out of it!
You share the agenda, you shape the event and you share the art of the possible as much as you share the likely limitations. You don’t over promise and under deliver.
You act global, think local
Can you get the ‘kit’ out in the hold of a plane? Is it too risky? Do 120 iPads exist for hire in Kuala Lumpur? (The answer was ‘no’.). Can I source and trust a supplier of iPads in Singapore to work with me to get the iPads set up to operate through my onsite network (The answer was Yes!).
You think about the consequences of an audience with English as a second language; you offer to run parallel technology streams in different languages. Wasn’t needed in the end.
Can we get out to Kuala Lumpur to manage the onsite and cope with the 40% of changes that happen to structure and content during the rehearsal? (The answer was Yes!).
Can I ship the right interactive technologies to support a fully integrated delivery without using in-event Wi-Fi? (A very big resounding Yes!)
With everyone and everyone. You take nothing for granted. You help set expectations, you address misconceptions. You share the art of the possible, you accept last minute changes. You communicate options and solutions.
You stay calm
You don’t say ‘no’ during the initial phone call. You see the opportunity in every situation. You think about the value you can bring if you get it right. You have fun and thank the client for the opportunity.
94% of delegates voted the use of the technology as ‘Excellent’, the top category. It was cited by the client as the most interactive, insightful and engaging event they had ever run in the region.
Ultimately our role as event specialists is to delight delegates and clients. Working and delivering events internationally we should be confident that thought great project management skills and a global outlook we can cope with any unexpected phone calls.