Whether you're planning a corporate conference, annual meeting, Christmas team celebration, or anything in between, the benefits of hosting an event extend far beyond surface-level interactions. They serve as platforms for networking, education, engagement, and empowerment, creating lasting memories and forging invaluable connections.
Regardless of the event type, each event demands a unique blend of planning, creativity, and meticulous execution. From the choice of venue to the engagement of keynote speakers, the logistics are as diverse as the occasions themselves. This comprehensive guide is designed to help event organisers with the insights and strategies needed to host exceptional events in 2023 that leave a lasting impact.
How To Be The Perfect Event Host
Successfully hosting an event requires careful considerations, and one of the initial choices organisers must make is deciding who will take on the role of the host. This decision often boils down to a choice between whether the organiser should host the event themselves or enlist a professional host. Self-hosting provides the advantage of personal connection, deep understanding of the event's purpose, and authenticity. However, it might lack the finesse of a professional host. On the other hand, a professional host brings polished presentation skills, a neutral perspective, and the ability to navigate unexpected situations. However, they might miss the genuine connection that comes from a personally vested host. The choice ultimately depends on the event's nature, goals, and the audience it caters to.
Regardless of the host's identity, ICC Belfast recommends these four essential tips for choosing an event host:
Understand the event purpose - Every event has a unique purpose and goal. It could be educational, celebratory, or just networking focused. Understanding the event's overarching purpose is essential as it shapes all aspects of planning and execution.
Communicate effectively - Event hosts serve as communication hubs, connecting with various stakeholders. Effective communication with organisers, attendees, sponsors, and other involved parties is crucial for seamless coordination and an enjoyable experience for all.
Make guests feel comfortable - Guests are central to any event's success. Ensuring they feel comfortable and valued through personalised treatment, understanding their needs, and conducting audience research creates a welcoming atmosphere. Equally important is the host's comfort, as their confidence resonates with attendees and influences the overall atmosphere. Strategies like rehearsing, audience analysis, and practicing relaxation techniques can help enhance host comfort.
Stay organised and prioritise time management - Staying organised is the backbone of successful event planning and hosting. The ICC Belfast event delivery team offers valuable support to assist planners in maintaining order throughout their event. Effective time management ensures tasks are completed efficiently and minimises the risk of last-minute disruptions.
By sticking to these four fundamental principles, event hosts can create a positive, engaging, and memorable experience for their attendees, regardless of whether they choose to host the event themselves or opt for a professional host's services.
Hosting An Event Checklist
The ICC Belfast event hosting checklist is designed to give event organisers essential insights and practical steps for hosting successful events. Tailored to suit a diverse range of event types, this checklist serves as a versatile resource, providing guidance to ensure seamless planning and execution for any occasion.
1. Prepare the event venue
Selecting the right event venue is paramount as it sets the tone, ambience, and overall experience for attendees. Equally crucial is venue preparation, which ensures that the chosen space aligns seamlessly with the event's goals, enhances delegate satisfaction, and prioritises health and safety.
ICC Belfast recommends these three essential tips for venue selection:
Venue set-up - Proper venue set-up is a cornerstone of a successful event. Tailor the layout to suit the event type – whether it's a conference, gala dinner, or annual sales meeting. Create designated spaces for key activities such as exhibition stands, networking areas, and refreshment stations. Ensure adequate seating, production, and décor that complements the event's theme.
Registration, ticketing and navigation - Streamline the registration and ticketing process to avoid bottlenecks and confusion for delegates on arrival. Strategically place registration tables or kiosks for easy check-in at entrances. Utilise clear signage and digital tools to guide attendees through the venue. Provide clear instructions on digital invites, event programmes, session timings, and directions to various event spaces.
Health and safety - Prioritise the wellbeing of attendees by implementing robust health and safety measures. This includes adhering to regulations, conducting thorough risk assessments, and ensuring the venue's accessibility for all attendees. Communicate safety protocols effectively to participants to create a secure environment.
A well-prepared venue not only enhances the attendee experience but also reflects positively on your event's overall organisation and professionalism. However, as event industry experts, we know that navigating through a multitude of options while juggling factors such as capacity, location, amenities, and budget can make the process of finding the ideal venue feel overwhelming. That’s why we created a handy guide that offers valuable perspectives, ranging from assessing capacity to ensuring accessibility requirements are met for delegates.
Entertainment plays a pivotal role in hosting a successful event as it adds depth, engagement, and emotional resonance to the overall experience. Whether through captivating speeches, thought-provoking presentations, or interactive activities, well-chosen entertainment not only keeps attendees engaged but also creates memorable moments that leave a lasting impression, enhancing the overall enjoyment and value of the event.
ICC Belfast recommends these three essential tips for entertainment considerations:
Accommodate speakers or performers - Ensure that the chosen entertainment aligns with the event's theme and audience preferences. Collaborate closely with speakers, artists, or performers to understand their technical requirements and logistical needs. Adequate stage setup, sound equipment, and lighting are essential to ensure their performance shines.
Practicing own pitch - If you're hosting the event yourself or have a designated host, thorough rehearsal is key. Familiarise yourself with the event programme, practice introductions, transitions, and any scripted content. Rehearsals help in managing nerves, ensuring a polished delivery, and addressing any unforeseen challenges that may arise during the event.
Check-in with vendors - Regular communication with entertainment vendors is vital. Confirm timelines, equipment setup, and technical needs well in advance. Conduct a final run-through before the event to identify and resolve any last-minute issues. This proactive approach minimises the chances of technical glitches or miscommunications during the actual performance.
Remember, entertainment contributes significantly to the event's overall atmosphere and attendee satisfaction. By meticulously addressing these considerations, you can enhance the entertainment aspect, creating a memorable experience for all attendees.
3. Create a lasting delegate experience
Delegate experience is essential to the success of any event as it directly influences attendee satisfaction, engagement, and overall perception. A well-planned and thoughtful delegate experience, encompassing aspects like personalised interactions, not only fosters lasting memories but also encourages attendee loyalty, word-of-mouth promotion, and the potential for future participation in similar events.
ICC Belfast recommends these three essential tips for creating a lasting delegate experience:
Send invites and reminders - Craft enticing invitations that convey the event's value and appeal. Provide clear event details, including date, time, location, and any special instructions. Follow up with timely reminders as the event approaches to ensure attendees are well-prepared and excited.
Incentivise audience participation - Create opportunities for attendees to actively engage with the event. Incorporate interactive elements such as polls, Q&A sessions, or live demonstrations that encourage audience participation. Offer incentives like prizes or exclusive content to encourage active involvement, creating a sense of value and enjoyment.
Facilitate networking and opportunities to mingle - Designate spaces for networking and casual interactions. Arrange icebreaker activities or themed discussions to help attendees connect with like-minded peers. The ability to forge connections enhances the overall experience, making attendees feel that they've gained more than just knowledge from the event.
During one session at the AstraZeneca 2020 kick-off event, delegates took part in David Meade's ‘Give a Hand’ initiative. An incredible, unique and emotionally fuelled team building activity that delegates described as ”exceptional”. By focusing on a creating a delegate experience for their event, AstraZeneca, in partnership with ICC Belfast, were able to enhance emotional connections with their employees. This in turn exponentially increased delegate engagement, innovation and collaboration.
Considering the production technology and software is vital to hosting a successful event as it directly impacts the event's presentation quality, engagement level, and overall professionalism. Implementing the right technology, from audio-visual equipment to event management software, enhances audience experience, and enables efficient communication, ultimately contributing to an impactful event.
ICC Belfast recommends these three essential tips when reviewing venue production capabilities:
Speaker technology - Bring your event to life by harnessing cutting-edge sound, lighting, video, design, and production technologies. Ensure all equipment is tested well in advance to avoid technical glitches during the event. Provide training to speakers on using the technology effectively to maintain a smooth flow of presentations.
Event apps - Consider utilising event management apps to streamline communication, registration, and attendee engagement. These apps can offer features like event schedules, interactive maps, real-time updates, and networking opportunities. Choose an app that aligns with your event's goals and provides a user-friendly experience.
Hybrid considerations - In today's landscape, hybrid events that combine in-person and virtual components are becoming more prevalent. If your event is hybrid, ensure that your technology can accommodate both audiences seamlessly. Invest in robust video conferencing and streaming solutions, facilitate virtual Q&A sessions, and create interactive experiences for remote attendees.
If you're deliberating whether a hybrid event aligns better with your upcoming conference, we have created an all-encompassing guide that will offer valuable perspectives on the significance and advantages of hybrid events in 2023, along with step-by-step planning considerations to ensure your event's success.
Documenting an event on the day is crucial as it preserves the experience, captures memorable moments, and provides valuable content for future use. From photographs and videos to social media updates and attendee feedback, live documentation ensures a comprehensive record of the event's highlights, which can be leveraged for marketing, analysis, and sharing the event's impact with a wider audience.
ICC Belfast recommends these three essential tips for documenting your event:
Enlist photographers and videographers - Hire professional photographers and videographers to capture high quality visuals of the event. Ensure they understand and have advance oversight of what are anticipated to be the event's key moments, important speakers, and unique elements that need to be documented. Their work will serve as a visual record for promotional materials, recaps, and future event planning.
Create social sharing opportunities - Designate areas or activities where attendees can take photos and share their experiences on social media. Utilise event-specific hashtags to encourage online engagement and create a real-time virtual presence that extends beyond the physical event space.
Gather guest feedback throughout - Continuously gather feedback from attendees throughout the event. This can be done through surveys, comment cards, or real-time polling. Their input can offer valuable insights for improvements, and capturing their sentiments in the moment adds authenticity to the event's documentation.
By following these documentation strategies, event organisers can create a comprehensive record of their event, capturing the essence, impact, and excitement for both immediate use and long-term reference.
6. Be effective at timekeeping
Timekeeping is of paramount importance when hosting an event as it ensures the smooth flow of activities, maintains the schedule's integrity, and respects attendees' time commitments. Accurate time management prevents disruptions, reduces stress, and enhances the overall event experience, ultimately contributing to its success and reputation.
ICC Belfast recommends these three essential tips for timekeeping at your event:
Ensure talks or entertainment run to schedule - Clearly communicate time limits to speakers, performers, and presenters well in advance. Consider having a timekeeper or moderator who can gently signal when it's time to wrap up. Rehearse presentations to ensure they fit within the allocated time to prevent overruns.
Allocating time for breaks or movement - Incorporate scheduled breaks into your event's timeline to allow attendees to rest, network, and recharge. Well-timed breaks also help avoid participant fatigue and ensure engagement remains high throughout the event. Plan for adequate transition time between sessions to accommodate movement between different event spaces.
Wrapping up on time - Plan your event schedule with realistic timeframes, allowing for unforeseen delays. Emphasise the importance of adhering to the schedule to all involved parties, including speakers, sponsors, and attendees. Wrapping up on time not only shows respect for participants' schedules but also enhances your event's professionalism.
By implementing effective timekeeping strategies, event organisers can maintain a structured and efficient event flow, providing attendees with a satisfying and well-paced experience.
Hosting an Event At ICC Belfast
With state-of-the-art facilities and a prime city-centre location, ICC Belfast is a premier choice for hosting your next event. Offering advanced technology, flexible spaces and access to an award-winning team, we tick every box when it comes to event organisation. From functional meeting rooms to multi-purpose exhibition halls, we have the space and services to elevate your next event to new heights. But don’t just take our word for it…
If you could replicate your venue plus staff across every city in the UK that would be excellent. Although we fully expected everything to be brilliant…it was next level.” Dorothy Inverarity, Director, Echo Events