1. Set expectations for action.
Make sure they know in advance that this event experience is something that is way more than one day or three days or one week or however long your event is. The event is about the beginning of a journey. If they know that going in, they’ll approach the event with the right mindset.
This should be a major selling point for your event! If you struggle at all with selling tickets, sell the outcomes that participants will achieve after the experience!
Even better than you setting expectations for them, have your participants set expectations with someone before they come. If it's a work conference, have them set expectations with their boss or their direct reports. Maybe it’s a family member or a friend. Make them accountable to someone that they will be taking action after your event.
2. Use active language.
What's the difference between an attendee and a participant? An attendee is there to attend (passive). A participant is there to participate (active)!
Consistently signal the importance of action in all your communications. It should show up in your pre-event emails, your on-stage remarks, in your program or app, on your signage, in your post-event communications, you name it.
Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. People need to hear something seven times before it really sets in, so make sure that you’re absolutely highlighting the importance of taking action vs. it just being a throw-away line at the end of the event, “OK, now go do something!”
3. Link every component of the event with action.
Make It part of the culture of your event. This one is great because you can put your speakers to work for you! Once a speaker finishes speaking on a given subject, have her share the specific actions that she thinks participants should take next. You can even have them suggest action items and print them in the program or the app or on their last slide.
Showcase action between sessions with video vignettes of past participants who’ve taken action, follow-ups with previous speakers who’ve taken action, or any other stories or examples of the types of action you want to see.
You can even help facilitate action during “breaks” with different conversation starters or creative name badges or creative interactive sessions to help spark people to connect and act.
4. Give them time to action plan!
This is the biggest mistake we see event organizers make again and again. You want to cram the program full of amazing speakers and amazing content. It’s one thing after another, and it’s all amazing! But then your participants leave having had no time to plan. And it’s back to the phone calls and the meetings and the typical day-to-day routine, so that action planning never happens.
You need to set aside time at or near the end of your event for participants to create a plan for what they’re going to do next. They will have a million ideas for things they could do, but it’s easy for those ideas to go away if they don’t decide which of them they will do.
This can be as simple as providing a template with time increments (we’ve found that 48 hour, 10 day, and 30 day time increments work well) for participants to fill out. This can be in your program or your app. Now they have a simple one page to refer back to for next steps.
5. Set them up with built-in accountability.
Everyone has different things that work best for them to hold themselves accountable, but in general, one of the best things is having other people involved. Your whole event has been about meeting and talking with other other people! Help facilitate the continuation of that after your event.
Help them assemble accountability groups. Send out scheduled follow-ups. Include it in your app or your post-event communications. Build a community online through a Slack channel or Facebook group or LinkedIn group or whatever to allow for them to keep each other updated and keep tabs on progress.
Most importantly, collect stories. Six months after your event when you're selling tickets to the next one, you'll be asked, "Why should I come to your event?" and yes you could say, "because we'll have the best speakers" or, "we're the top event for our industry.” Well, every event can say that. What if instead you can say, "last year, because of their event, two people started a business now already worth $1MM, this hot new app was launched, and this trend is starting to emerge in our space.” If you have powerful stories like that, who WOULDN'T want to go to your event?