Here are my top 5 tips to ensure this doesn't happen to you! they seem incredibly obvious, but I am constantly attending events that make at least one, if not more, of these mistakes!
1) The quality of your food and wine is important
Even if it is free, your guests will still expect quality, and today many expect traceability, with a local point of origin. In an era where every third person aspires to be the equivalent of a television masterchef, everyone is a critic. You are also expected to have a focus on sustainability by reducing waste, and offering alternatives to disposables.
2) Skip one sided long-winded lectures
Today event participants want to interact as they learn, so choose authentic speakers who create engagement, make your audience feel like an integral part of the event, and don't give the same speech they give every time they are booked for an event (they get paid a lot of money so they should show you enough respect to ensure their content is constantly revised and refreshed) . Sitting down for hours listening to lectures will lull even the most interested participants into a deep sleep. Insert lots of breaks where they can move around and network or get involved in interesting activities. Ensure the event has variety, and add entertainment for light relief.
3) Location Location Location
No matter how interesting the content is, an event venue that inspires will always be a more creative environment and will encourage participation, conversation and information retention. Choose unusual venues, or add atmosphere with lighting and creative themes. Plan your layout carefully, thinking as if you were one of the attendees, and then looking at it again from the viewpoint of your guest speakers, sponsors etc.
4) Keep it fresh
Innovative and creative events offer an evolving experience that has the audience looking forward to whatever is coming up next. NEVER do a complete repeat of the year before, no matter how well it was received. Your audience will remember that the speaker gave exactly the same speech last year, and an activity quickly loses its appeal when they learned all the tricks to doing it the year prior.
5) Keep it relevant
Spend time working what your message is, and how you are going to convey the message. Then ensure you understand who your audience is, and make sure the what and how are relevant to the "who".