Episode 4

full
Published on:

21st Nov 2022

How do I organize a conference?

How do you even begin organizing and hosting a conference? Where’s the checklist or to-do lists to get it done?  Isaac and Nessa dive into another frequently asked question in this week’s episode! Get more at geteventlab.com

Timestamps

00:00 Intro

01:58 Today's FAQ and what people are actually trying to find out: where are the #hacks?  

07:34 Our solutions to the actual problem: strategy!

11:07 Stay in your lane and zones of excellence

11:40 Get it out of your head

13:59 Recap

Key takeaways

  • There’s no one-size fits all approach to organizing a conference. What you need starts from your goals and then builds from there.
  • The logistics is actually the easiest part if you've done your deep dive strategy work first.
  • You don't have to DIY it all yourself! Stick to your zones of excellence and bring in help that can fill in the gaps.
  • Write things down! The problems you keep in your head are probably not as complicated as you think.

Go to geteventlab.com and start working on how to make the best decisions for your event from the very start: geteventlab.com  

Next episode: How much should a conference ticket cost?



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Transcript
Isaac Watson:

How do you as a leader of a growing community, truly make a

Isaac Watson:

conference or event that has impact, a gathering with purpose and an attendee

Isaac Watson:

experience that knocks their socks off?

Isaac Watson:

An event that leaves your audience in awe and wondering where

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you've been their whole life?

Isaac Watson:

Make It Kickass is the podcast that explores these questions by uncovering

Isaac Watson:

the strategies, tactics and tools that we use every day to bring

Isaac Watson:

our clients' conferences to life.

Isaac Watson:

I'm Isaac Watson, executive producer of Kickass Conferences, and we are

Isaac Watson:

here to help you make it kick ass.

Isaac Watson:

Welcome back everybody.

Isaac Watson:

We are here with another episode of Make It Kickass.

Isaac Watson:

I'm Isaac Watson, executive producer at Kickass Conferences, and with me is the

Isaac Watson:

lovely Nessa Jimenez operations manager.

Nessa Jimenez:

Hi everybody.

Isaac Watson:

Hi Nessa.

Isaac Watson:

How you doing today?

Nessa Jimenez:

I'm doing great.

Nessa Jimenez:

How are you?

Nessa Jimenez:

Oh, amazing.

Nessa Jimenez:

Amazing.

Nessa Jimenez:

We are in this season of the podcast, we are exploring some of those recurring

Nessa Jimenez:

questions that we get asked by our clients, by people we talk to, Find out

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that we produce conferences because.

Nessa Jimenez:

Everybody wants to know more about what it takes.

Nessa Jimenez:

And we're using each episode to identify one question and then tease out maybe

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some of the underlying concerns or anxieties or real issues that are

Nessa Jimenez:

feeding into these burning questions and how we can solve around that.

Nessa Jimenez:

So today our question is so simple and yet so complicated.

Nessa Jimenez:

Right?

Isaac Watson:

How do I organize a conference?

Isaac Watson:

It's so innocent.

Nessa Jimenez:

Yes.

Nessa Jimenez:

Like how do I do this?

Nessa Jimenez:

Ah, where do we start?

Isaac Watson:

Yes.

Isaac Watson:

So how do I organize a conference?

Isaac Watson:

It is indeed like one of the most common questions that we get.

Isaac Watson:

And the thing is, it is so simple and yet so broad that there's no way that you can.

Isaac Watson:

Answer that right?

Isaac Watson:

Like, where do I begin?

Isaac Watson:

Especially as people who do this for a living.

Isaac Watson:

So let's tease that out a little bit.

Isaac Watson:

Nessa, what do you think people are really asking when they ask us that question?

Nessa Jimenez:

Yeah.

Nessa Jimenez:

So what they're actually trying to ask us is, how do I start?

Nessa Jimenez:

What's step one?

Nessa Jimenez:

Where's the to-do list?

Nessa Jimenez:

Where's the checklist that you can just hand to me, and I could just

Nessa Jimenez:

start and work my way through?

Nessa Jimenez:

And by the end of it, there will be a conference.

Nessa Jimenez:

Right?

Nessa Jimenez:

Like everything on the internet, there's always a handy checklist somewhere.

Isaac Watson:

20 steps to organizing the Perfect conference.

Nessa Jimenez:

Exactly.

Nessa Jimenez:

What they're asking is what are the hacks?

Nessa Jimenez:

What's the DIY tips and tricks?

Nessa Jimenez:

How do I, hashtag hustle my way to doing it myself, all myself immediately, Like

Nessa Jimenez:

starting right now with no knowledge.

Nessa Jimenez:

Gimme the shortcut.

Nessa Jimenez:

But then there's also, I think, a deeper level, right?

Nessa Jimenez:

Cause there's people that come to us with that, but then there's other

Nessa Jimenez:

people that come to us, and what they actually wanna know is, how do I do

Nessa Jimenez:

this while still running a business and having a life and, going to work

Nessa Jimenez:

and doing my other things, right?

Nessa Jimenez:

How do I add this into my life that already is full of all kinds of stuff.

Isaac Watson:

Yeah.

Isaac Watson:

And I think that, that's the thing is like people know going

Isaac Watson:

into the idea of organizing a conference, that it's a lot of work.

Isaac Watson:

And I think it brings up a little bit of anxiety and people may

Isaac Watson:

be really excited to do it.

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They may have a great idea or a great reason to host a conference.

Isaac Watson:

But that it's a bandwidth thing.

Isaac Watson:

It's work.

Isaac Watson:

They know it, It's a lot.

Isaac Watson:

Event planning.

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It's a lot of strategy.

Isaac Watson:

It's a lot of things.

Isaac Watson:

And that's where it comes down to this, do I have the capacity to do this?

Isaac Watson:

How can I shortcut?

Isaac Watson:

How can I make this faster?

Isaac Watson:

Can I, skip a couple pieces here and there.

Isaac Watson:

Yes.

Isaac Watson:

And how, give me that list.

Isaac Watson:

. Yeah.

Nessa Jimenez:

Most of the.

Nessa Jimenez:

Yeah.

Nessa Jimenez:

Most of the people that we work with, like they do have incredible

Nessa Jimenez:

ideas and their communities, right?

Nessa Jimenez:

And they wanna serve their communities, bring something to them, but at

Nessa Jimenez:

the end of the day, they're just like I cannot possibly run this

Nessa Jimenez:

business and do all the things.

Nessa Jimenez:

I do everything and produce a conference every year.

Nessa Jimenez:

God forbid, , . That's actually good and useful and helpful.

Nessa Jimenez:

So I think what the actual problem is of moving on until actually helping is

Nessa Jimenez:

they think that it's up to them to do all the things like they don't realize.

Nessa Jimenez:

It takes a village to actually create a conference that will live

Nessa Jimenez:

and grow and exist outside of them.

Nessa Jimenez:

But I think with all, I wanna say, entrepreneurs and thinkers and community

Nessa Jimenez:

leaders and just good people there's this idea of I have to do it myself.

Nessa Jimenez:

I have to figure out how to do it.

Nessa Jimenez:

And it never occurs to them that, that that's an option actually.

Nessa Jimenez:

That's not actually a reality,

Isaac Watson:

yeah.

Isaac Watson:

I think it gets baked into a lot of that hustle culture and this notion that

Isaac Watson:

you just gotta keep pushing and over overtax yourself and just make it happen.

Isaac Watson:

And that's not necessarily the case.

Isaac Watson:

I think, if you can separate out your own.

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Ownership of it from the thing you're trying to achieve, that's gonna be the

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first step to to doing it the right way.

Isaac Watson:

I think another problem behind it is that people tend to be a little more,

Isaac Watson:

a little too obsessed with logistics before they've even developed strategy.

Isaac Watson:

So like when people are thinking, what's the checklist of things like that's ex

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executional operational stuff that's.

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Hiring a caterer getting the AV tech, finding a venue, organizing registration.

Isaac Watson:

That's all just tactical stuff.

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But if you don't have any strategy backing that up, you are you're

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planning something with no reason.

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And if you don't understand what you're creating, you can't

Isaac Watson:

find the right solutions for.

Nessa Jimenez:

Yeah.

Nessa Jimenez:

And we touched on this on another episode, the episode where we talked about how

Nessa Jimenez:

much does it cost to put on a conference?

Nessa Jimenez:

, people tend to skip to the end.

Nessa Jimenez:

And it seems odd to them, but honestly, that is the end.

Nessa Jimenez:

All these logistical things like that is the final piece.

Nessa Jimenez:

It takes the longest in terms of execution of these things, right?

Nessa Jimenez:

Getting the venues, getting the catering and all this good stuff.

Nessa Jimenez:

But that is actually one of the last steps.

Nessa Jimenez:

So they're skipping already to the end.

Nessa Jimenez:

So we ha we helped them stop and take a step back and realize like all of these

Nessa Jimenez:

things fall into place if we've actually had this strategy conversation and you

Nessa Jimenez:

actually know like why you're doing this and what needs to come out of it.

Isaac Watson:

So let's talk about some of the ways that we can help and

Isaac Watson:

that people can put their minds at ease as they think about this stuff.

Isaac Watson:

First and foremost why are you doing this?

Isaac Watson:

, what is the core reason or solution that you're trying

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to provide for your audience?

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That is the core of any strategy is really honing in on what

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your why is why people care.

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Why you want to do this in the first place?

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Why it's needed why now?

Isaac Watson:

And these are some of the questions that we ask through our event lab process

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is really digging into like, why.

Isaac Watson:

Why will people show up?

Nessa Jimenez:

Yeah.

Nessa Jimenez:

Spoiler alert, but that is really the core of the event lab and what we do.

Nessa Jimenez:

It's like we sit people down and we ask them why.

Nessa Jimenez:

And why is always my favorite question because it's like a lot of

Nessa Jimenez:

the times we don't even know why I know I wanna do this conference.

Nessa Jimenez:

I know, I think it's a good idea, but.

Nessa Jimenez:

They haven't actually thought of the why.

Nessa Jimenez:

And once we actually do this exercise with them and we have this conversation and we

Nessa Jimenez:

really dig down deep, a lot of the times they leave with a completely different

Nessa Jimenez:

understanding of what they want to do.

Nessa Jimenez:

, because they've never gone that deep into the thought of like, why who cares?

Nessa Jimenez:

Why is this happening?

Nessa Jimenez:

Why does this need to be a thing?

Nessa Jimenez:

It's been in their minds for so long that they don't realize that.

Nessa Jimenez:

Something in the subconscious, I'd almost say like speaking to that

Nessa Jimenez:

and bringing that, into the world.

Isaac Watson:

Yeah.

Isaac Watson:

And we tease that out and that's part of why we enjoy doing it, is it's really

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about drilling into those core motivations and those core goals so that we can

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then create something that meets those.

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And once you've identified that, why then.

Isaac Watson:

Before you get overwhelmed by all of the to do list items and all of the

Isaac Watson:

logistics, it's really about finding the right help to produce the event for you.

Isaac Watson:

You may be a fantastic community leader, an amazing, successful business owner, but

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you'd be cheating yourself to think that you can then execute on the most amazing

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event for your audience all by yourself without any help as a first time thing.

Isaac Watson:

That's where professionals like us come in and there's a whole breadth of

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different types of people who will plan events and produce and help with strategy.

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And so it's a, it's about identifying who is best to support you in doing that.

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And that right there is gonna answer the question about bandwidth because

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if you find the right person, they.

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Take on all the things that you don't need to be worried about.

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that you can continue to run your business, to lead your community to grow

Isaac Watson:

and develop and focus on the important things like, I don't know, program and

Isaac Watson:

content and speakers and what you're delivering and let somebody else

Isaac Watson:

handle all of the logistical pieces.

Nessa Jimenez:

It's like with any business where you've gotta stay

Nessa Jimenez:

in your lane, you've gotta stay in your zone of excellence and you've

Nessa Jimenez:

gotta find the people that have other zones of excellence, right?

Nessa Jimenez:

That can get you to where you wanna go.

Nessa Jimenez:

And as we've talked about before, For every business, for every

Nessa Jimenez:

entrepreneur, every community leader, that's different, right?

Nessa Jimenez:

There's some teams that they can have a 10 person team versus other

Nessa Jimenez:

organizations that can have a two people team and they're all able to reach

Nessa Jimenez:

their goals because again, they're focusing on what they have and what

Nessa Jimenez:

they can do and what their goals are.

Isaac Watson:

Exactly.

Isaac Watson:

I think another solution that we can offer, and this is, this may seem

Isaac Watson:

so simple, and yet we've encountered it at time and time again, is when

Isaac Watson:

people come to us with these big ideas and they're like, How do I do this?

Isaac Watson:

How do I organize this?

Isaac Watson:

One of the first things we ask is, Have you written anything down yet?

Nessa Jimenez:

Yeah, like can I see your work?

Isaac Watson:

Yeah.

Isaac Watson:

Like show, show me the work so far.

Isaac Watson:

And they're like, Oh, I've just been thinking about it for a long time.

Isaac Watson:

I was like, Okay, great.

Isaac Watson:

And get that down on paper.

Isaac Watson:

Put pen to paper.

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Make a dock.

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Dump your, it can be as rough as, but just dump your thoughts somewhere.

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Outside of your brain so that you can then reread them, collect them, connect

Isaac Watson:

them, refine them, and then work.

Isaac Watson:

Other professionals to hone that into something that's

Isaac Watson:

gonna be really successful.

Nessa Jimenez:

I will ask clients before any kickoff call that

Nessa Jimenez:

we have can you share with me any docs, any files you have?

Nessa Jimenez:

And a lot of times they got nothing.

Nessa Jimenez:

They have nothing.

Nessa Jimenez:

And we help them get that started.

Nessa Jimenez:

And that's also part of the process of Not disconnecting, but from,

Nessa Jimenez:

you can't bring people in to help you if it's all up in your head.

Nessa Jimenez:

Yeah.

Nessa Jimenez:

Like it has to be outside of you in some form so that others can come

Nessa Jimenez:

in and help you build the vision.

Nessa Jimenez:

Right?

Isaac Watson:

Exactly.

Isaac Watson:

And that's one of the things that like.

Isaac Watson:

We kept asking people to give us any documentation that they had or helpful

Isaac Watson:

information leading into an event lab.

Isaac Watson:

And it got to the point where enough people were not giving us anything and we

Isaac Watson:

were having to tease all this out of them that we were like, Okay, we're gonna give

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you some homework to do and force you to write this down through this worksheet.

Isaac Watson:

Before you even start into the event lab process.

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And we'll use that as the basis.

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And so we're we've learned that.

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Helping our clients get that information out into the open out of

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their heads and into something that a group can collaborate on is key

Isaac Watson:

to starting the strategic process.

Isaac Watson:

All right, so the core question that we addressed in this episode is how

Isaac Watson:

do I organize a conference, a question that is simple and yet open ended and

Isaac Watson:

so complex To answer that there's no possible way I could tell you that.

Isaac Watson:

So what people really actually mean when they ask that is

Isaac Watson:

they don't know where to start.

Isaac Watson:

They want to know what.

Isaac Watson:

What to do list they can work off of.

Isaac Watson:

Just show me the things that need to be done.

Isaac Watson:

They want to know what kinds of shortcuts or hacks they can just hustle

Isaac Watson:

their way through to make it happen, especially on a quicker timeline.

Isaac Watson:

Than they think they need or than they actually need.

Isaac Watson:

And then, and just wondering about capacity.

Isaac Watson:

Do I have bandwidth to take this on and continue to run the business that I have

Isaac Watson:

lives, the life that I have without, completely overworking or burning

Isaac Watson:

myself out on putting this together.

Isaac Watson:

So some of the solutions around.

Isaac Watson:

Are really focusing on why you are doing this in the first place.

Isaac Watson:

Being very clear on what you're trying to create and why it's

Isaac Watson:

necessary and needed at this time why your people care about it.

Isaac Watson:

And in doing so, putting your thoughts down on paper, whether.

Isaac Watson:

A doc, a Google doc, or a in a journal.

Isaac Watson:

It doesn't matter.

Isaac Watson:

Just getting him out of your head and into written form to be able

Isaac Watson:

to start processing and connecting dots and things like that.

Isaac Watson:

And then from there you can find the right help to produce the event for you.

Isaac Watson:

You may be a fantastic community leader.

Isaac Watson:

That doesn't mean that you're gonna be a fantastic event producer.

Isaac Watson:

So finding the right skilled talent to help you produce that and to bring

Isaac Watson:

that vision to life is gonna be key.

Isaac Watson:

You as the organizer and this is the key nomenclature for me, is that an

Isaac Watson:

organizer is somebody who is hosting the event, who has the idea who's

Isaac Watson:

leading the community around it.

Isaac Watson:

The producer is somebody like us who is actually executing on that vision, right?

Isaac Watson:

And.

Isaac Watson:

Your role as a leader, as a, as an organizer, as a host

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is gonna be very different.

Isaac Watson:

You shouldn't be concerned about those nitty gritty, logistical details.

Isaac Watson:

You are there to gather the people together and to give them a sense of

Isaac Watson:

purpose, and you find the right support.

Isaac Watson:

Services to bring that vision to life and to carry that through for

Isaac Watson:

your audience and for your business.

Nessa Jimenez:

Thank you so much for joining us for this week's episode,

Nessa Jimenez:

and if you want to learn more about everything that we do and how we can

Nessa Jimenez:

help you set up for an incredible event, you can visit us at geteventlab.com.

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About the Podcast

Make It Kickass
Community Event Mastery
Make It Kickass explores how leaders of growing communities can make conferences with impact, gatherings with purpose, and an attendee experience that knocks their socks off. We uncover the strategies, tactics, and tools we use every day to bring our clients’ conferences to life. If you've ever wanted to host a life-changing conference, this podcast is for you.

Find us at kickassconf.com or geteventlab.com

About your hosts

Isaac Watson

Profile picture for Isaac Watson
Isaac Watson is the founder and Executive Producer at Kickass Conferences, an event strategy and production studio based in the Pacific Northwest. Isaac helps community leaders develop and deliver transformative events for their audiences and inspire them to build a better world.

A maker and introvert at heart, when he’s not working his magic behind the scenes in event strategy and production, he’s usually at home in Vancouver, Washington working on remodeling projects, gardening, cooking, learning to sew, and building LEGO.

Nessa Jimenez

Profile picture for Nessa Jimenez
Nessa Jimenez is the Operations Manager at Kickass Conferences, an event strategy and production studio based in the Pacific Northwest. She coordinates the day to day work with our clients and vendors, keeps all of our projects rolling on time and now edits and produces the podcast.

Nessa lives in and works from Puerto Rico. When she's not working, you can find her reading a book or trying to figure out how to keep her plants alive.