Organising a colleague conference is no mean feat. Bringing together people from multiple locations, dealing with budgets, getting leaders to truly lead – there’s a lot to do!
One of the earlier tasks is to ensure colleagues are actually going to attend. Here are some pointers on getting colleague conference invites just right.
1. Get the basics right… or else!
Miss even one of these basics from your invite, and be prepared for a barrage of indignant e-mails:
- Start and finish times
- Travel and accommodation arrangements
- Catering details
- RSVP link and deadline
As well as this practical information, you will want to start to engage your audience. To do this, you’ll need:
- Speaker details
- What will be covered, in brief
2. Set a tone appropriate to your message
Your invite will probably be the first awareness your colleague has of the conference. With that in mind, it’s important to set the right tone. Think about:
- should people expect to hear about lots of exciting developments, or is the focus on developing the future direction together on the day?
- is it optional, or mandatory? Under what circumstances would it be acceptable not to attend?
- think about the content of the day. Is news likely to be exciting and optimistic, or are there serious announcements on the horizon? Even if your overall brand is fun, the tone of your invite needs to reflect the message on the day to avoid disappointments due to mismatched expectations. Leaving colleagues unprepared for upcoming news could have a detrimental effect on morale.
3. Make RSVP tracking easy
Having thousands of colleagues reply via e-mail is an unnecessarily time-consuming way of collating responses.
Event management sites such as Eventbrite can make RSVP tracking simple and automated. It will split your list so you can send reminders to those who haven’t responded, and at a glance, you will be able to filter the number of guests who have special requirements (eg. access, dietary) if you have asked for this on the invite.
Eventbrite can integrate with Mailchimp, a simple HTML e-mail builder, so you can design beautiful e-mails and still benefit from their events management system in the background.
4. Get people thinking early
Colleagues are more likely to benefit from the conference if they are given the opportunity to participate fully.
Audience participation doesn’t have to wait until the event. Instead you can get going with the invite itself.
Here are some ideas:
- design a short pre-conference survey in Surveymonkey, asking colleagues what they are most looking forward to hearing about, or most need to know to be able to improve their performance. Create a direct link from the e-mail invite. This could double-up as the RSVP opportunity
- ask colleagues to submit questions for the leadership to answer on the day
- provide colleagues with some initial themes of the day, and ask them to discuss them in a team meeting prior to the conference
5. Get it in peoples’ diaries
Make the date easy to remember by sending a calendar update to colleagues’ Outlook / iCal calendars.
This can be set to happen automatically with Eventbrite, or you could send it to those who have RSVP’d positively a few weeks prior to the event itself.
6. Build the invite into a communications plan
A conference’s impact should last long after the day ends.
In order for the conference to be a real success, the invite should be just one piece in a larger communications plan. This plan should cover the run up to the event, the event itself, and the post-event follow-up. For example, if you’re announcing a new operational strategy for the next year, get ahead of the curve by planning the next few months communications prior to the event.
As a minimum, the immediate follow-up from a conference should be produced in advance of the day itself so it can be sent whilst the content is still fresh in colleagues’ minds. This might mean building an intranet page, housing the slide content and leadership messages. This follow-up messaging should be delivered to colleagues a maximum of one week after the event.
Want to know more about communicating an internal conference to colleagues? Get in touch – I’d be happy to help – or take a look at my case study.