Rule #1 for planning your fundraiser or corporate event: Start sharp, end sharp
We are overly obsessed with schedule, time, and sports on 65 inch HD TV’s, Wait, that was personal.
But when I get invited to any event I wonder when it starts and when it ends. I was recently invited to an event that said, "starts at 6:00PM and ends at 7:30." I was thrilled to accept that invite. It was on a Tuesday night and I was encouraged to see a timely and specific invite. It would be crisp, efficient, and I was in a great mood to enjoy the fellowship around the table, hear a couple of speakers, and be home for my daily ritual of flossing, and going to bed early. When I arrived my thoughts started getting suspicious of the schedule. As it turned out, I snuck out at 9:05 PM and there was still more to go. How could they have been so off? To the credit of the event there was still steam in the room, but I wonder how many folks had later plans or babysitters, or accepted the invite thinking it would be an early night? It also feels rude to slip out if you need to and the person who invited you may feel bad.
There are generally two post event responses. One is when the event ends, people stream out the door. In other words, “this thing is finally over, now I can go.”
The other response is a long, lingering crowd that has a nice buzz and no one wants the evening to end. Which one would you want to best describe your event?
The old “leave them wanting more” really is true. Imagine eaves dropping on next day conversations…..
Friend one: say, how that event last night?
Friend two: well…..it went long…..but it was good.
Friend two: wow, what a great night!
Start on time! I cannot stress that enough. And be mindful of not only the length of your program, but how it builds and sustains their interest. You don't want it to start at 7:00 sharp, only to end at 9:00 dull.
There is a clock counter on almost everything we do now...more than ever. Send me a Youtube video you want me to watch…first, I am going to check the length of it. A minute four seconds and I will probably watch it right away. Six minutes probably later, one hour and eleven minutes and I will probably delete you from my contacts list.
Our smartphones and devices have us utterly consumed with minutia. Remember we all have our smart phones at the events. A great event will keep them in the pockets and purses. An event with lots of “praying heads” are not people actually praying. They are on their phones.
So, be true on the time you advertise. End early if you can. No one will be upset an event ended 15 minutes early. The point is be intentional, be specific, be efficient.
If you ever go to the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN you will discover that when your appointment is at 9:00 AM, at 9:01 they are calling you in. If you then have another appointment scheduled as a result of the first one, and it is for 3 PM...at 3PM they see you. You can baffle the Dr.s with the third ear that is growing out of the side of your head, but you will be bragging about the efficiency of the experience. Let’s face it, it feels honoring to have your time respected, and how many people can brag they’re growing a third ear? It’s win /win.
Event circumstances must be considered always. I attended an event on a very warm spring evening where the AC had gone out. Bummer. Big bummer. It was scorching hot in the room. Do you plow forward with all the elements originally planned in the event? Well, they decided they had to do all that was planned. What people remember is how horrifically uncomfortable they were. It a perfect opportunity to call an audible and on the spot start cutting until you have the most critical components left to complete the event and allow the crowd to go. A good emcee could make those calls along with the head of the event. The emcee can dispense the news to those losing their spot backstage in a way that saves lots of face with the organization, and allows the event to be salvaged. No doubt a call to the hotel with a massive complaint should adjust final expenses. People inherently know what feels critical to the event and what is "added niceness” that could have been cut. Surprisingly, unexpected and unfavorable circumstances happen more often than you think. A good emcee is the park ranger. Up in the tower keeping things in line. Wait, maybe that is the zookeeper, or the lifeguard. You figure out my impetuous metaphors, and get back to me preferably by Tuesday.
In an upcoming chapter that is soon to be out filled with stuff I am soon to make up, I will talk about the clever and productive ways to trim time without anyone noticing. Your event will be a like a nice 8 oz Filet with edible mushrooms. Who doesn’t like that with the exceptions of my dear vegetarian friends who would rather have a 8 oz tofu filet?