The event industry is full of bad eggs.
Unoriginal content repeated by hundreds of speakers and online articles.
Speaker sessions that are an hour-long sales pitch instead of value-adding.
Events that don’t live up to the promise in the marketing.
Events that go way over time without any sort of explanation or apology for taking up more of their points than they promised.
Recently a good friend shared her experience from Tony Robbin’s flagship Unleash The Power Within event and mentioned that the three and a half day event could have been cut down to one and a half or two days if they’d cut the sales pitches.
It’s insane what event producers are allowed to get away with.
I’ve sat through enough, and I’d guess you have too.
When the information shared at the event falls short of the promise, or is rehashed from hundreds of other speakers, and is topped with a pitch that sucks up a significant percentage of the event time, it’s not only a waste of the attendees’ money but it’s completely disrespectful to the attendees themselves as well.
The fact that there are so many events out there that do this kind of thing and waste your time is dizzying and frustrating at times. So here’s a checklist to help you avoid events that will waste your time…
1 - Is The Content Directly Applicable To Where I Am In My Business Today?
There’s no point in going to an event with content that won’t help you in your business where you are now.
Further, if I can’t figure out what the content to be delivered is then I won’t go.
If the content is being hidden from potential attendees, it is a clear sign of a couple red flags:
It could indicate that the producer doesn’t know what content is going to be shared (and thus, indicates that they don’t know what is going on!
It could indicate that they are hiding weak content
It could indicate that they are hiding the fact that their speakers are just going to pitch you the whole event (A big no-no for a paying event!).
My point: Don’t know the content, don’t go.
2 - Do I Want To Spend Time With The Attendees?
Events take time, and it’s more than likely you’ll end up mingling and connecting with other attendees. Make sure that it’s the kind of event that will attract people that you actually want to connect and network with.
Look at how it is marketed (Different kinds of marketing attracts different kinds of people)
Look to see who else is going to the event (You can find this on facebook often!)
Look at who invited you (Like attracts like, and people who invited you are probably the sort of people who will be there)
Are the people who are the answers to these questions the sort of people you want to be spending time with and working with?
If not, steer clear!
3 - Do I Need Time And Space To Work On A Project In A Guided Environment (Or with motivation)?
This is primarily for paid events that you’re going out of town for.
I personally spend extra time away from the office when I go to events like these, so that I can set aside time to work on projects that don’t get worked on consistently. It’s the perfect time to take the space you need for a mini CEO retreat where you’re looking at things strictly from a CEO perspective and working on ideas and the like.
If you haven’t had that in a while, it might be a good idea to attend some sort of retreat.
4 - Do I Trust The People Putting On The Event?
How do you know that the producers will live up to the promise they’ve made in their marketing if you don’t know and trust them?
I spoke at and attended an event a few years ago where the coordinator wasn’t well-known as an event person. He put together a shaky line-up of speakers, and we had a grand total of 12 attendees. Half of which I invited. The marketing and the event were less than exciting.
Granted, the first time a person puts on an event it’s generally shaky and not the best version of the event. Even the Grow Retreat had a lot of growing to do after its first year, and it’s taken work to get it to the epic event that it is now. But we put in the work and we got help to make it better. Unless the people hosting the event are willing to put in the work at finding ways to make the event better, it’s never going to go anywhere and you might just be wasting your money and time by attending.
5 - Who Are The Speakers?
Are they worth listening to?
This is about the quality of the speakers. No one wants to sit through a session with someone who isn’t going to be a good investment of time and money.
You can find out about this kind of stuff both by the way people are marketed and by doing a little online research yourself. Find out what it is that makes this person special and qualified to talk to you about your specific area of expertise. For me it’s business. For you it might be gardening or photography or any number of other things.
The point is to make sure these people are worth paying to listen to.
6 - Are The Speakers Being Paid?
Or are they paying to be on stage?
Most speakers fall into one of three categories:
Free speaker (i.e. often participating for lead generation or to make sales)
Pay-to-play speaker (they paid to have the chance to stand on the stage and almost always pitch from the stage)
Paid, professional speaker (usually, these speakers have the best delivery, most original content, and are focused on creating the best experience, not trying to make money!)
The first two categories are often so focused on getting their time or monies worth that they rarely add real value to the event. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s a good rule of thumb.
The reason the Grow Retreat speakers are paid so well is because we want them to be able to focus on showing up and being focused on helping the attendees with their current struggles!
I’ve learned that I just have to ask the producer about this one because it’s hard to tell from the marketing.
What Isn’t Here…
Notice how price isn’t a concern? I’ve had people tell me that they won’t attend an event if it’s more than $100...I look at it from the opposite perspective. Events that are cheap and long are almost always pitch fests. I’ll happily attend a gala for $200. I don’t want to waste a day at an event pitched at $99, etc!
Plus, most of those people aren’t the ones I want to network with either.
Additionally, I’ve learned that I have that innate talent where, if everything else lines up, I’ll make MORE than my money back. If I have the cash, the ticket price is not my concern.
The Grow Retreat is the biggest event of the year for us! We just finished up Grow2020, but registration for Grow2021 is open! Book your interview for this phenomenal event here! (Yup, we're aware this link goes to the website for Grow2020. Don't worry, you can still book an interview and check out what this year's retreat was like!)
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt: a San Antonio based company dedicated to disrupting the way the world does business through training. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!