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A Tale of Two Events

Let me tell you about two events I was fortunate enough to attend over the past few months. Let’s call them Event A and Event B.

They had the same mission; to gain support from the business community to develop leaders for the greater good of Indianapolis.

Event A happened in a swanky hotel convention space; participants wore suits, ties, and dresses. Shiny programs highlighted the agenda. We were served a plated lunch.  The schedule was smooth; each speaker delivered articulate points accented with carefully curated data.  White envelopes for donations were referenced at the end.

It was polished, professional … and boring.

Event B happened in the back room of a local restaurant.  Participants wore everything from running shoes to high heels, sports shirts to tank tops.  Beers, burgers, and bar snacks were available for purchase.  It started thirty minutes late.  The speakers told story after story until they ran out of words.  It went well past it’s scheduled stop time and left me wondering what I was supposed to do next.

It was inspiring, authentic and … frustrating.

If you could’ve blended the best moments of each,  you’d have one h#@$ of an event, but they missed crucial components that move people to get involved physically and financially.

Event A had structure, but no story.

Event B had story, but no structure.

You need both.  If you lack one or the other, you’ll miss the opportunity to connect and engage with your audience in a meaningful way.

If event A had inspired me, I would’ve included a check in the white envelope on the table.

If event B had instructed me, I would’ve known what to do with the motivation created.

Both events missed the mark.

How do you go about achieving story and structure when you’re organizing an event?

Start here;

1.) Be aware of structure and story

If you don’t have stories, your message won’t create the emotional connection necessary for your audience to engage, remember and share your message.

If you don’t have structure, you’ll leave them unclear on what steps to take next to support you.

2.) Plan accordingly

If you’re a type A speaker or planner, look at your content.   Do your data tell a story or they numbers on a screen, easily forgotten?  Does your event tell the story that coincides with its purpose?

If you’re a type B speaker or planner, look at your agenda. Is it clear and is someone responsible for keeping things on track?   Are you sharing EVERYTHING because you’re afraid of missing something, so you cram it all in? Do you have clear action steps for your audience afterward?

3.) Assess afterward 

Ask your audience about the impact of your event. Be specific about time, location, layout, delivery, story, and impact.  Ask your audience what they will (or won’t) do because of their attendance?  Then ask yourself and your team what you’ll do better the next time.


Not everyone will answer, and that’s OK. You’ll learn a lot from those that do.

Sure wish someone had asked me.


Have you been to events like these? What would you change?  Share your experience in the comments below and let’s keep the conversation going!



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