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Shaping an Event’s Business Programme: Ticket to Success and Roscongress’ Expertise

13 July 2020
Деловая программа конгрессных мероприятий: залог успеха и опыт Фонда Росконгресс

The Roscongress Foundation continues sharing its expertise in business event management as part of the National Congress Bureau (NCB) Summer Academy. Armen Khachatrian, Deputy CEO and Programme Director of the Roscongress Foundation, completed the project’s second module with an online lecture ‘Designing an Event Programme and Key Aspects of Working with Speakers’.

Mr. Khachatrian shared that shaping an event’s business programme takes a sequence of actions and preparedness for a force-majeure. He also addressed what makes an event attractive for a potential speaker and spoke about changes in the contemporary event formats. Over 200 people joined the lecture.    

Roscongress Foundation’s Programme Director looked into the key stages of preparing and successful implementation of any event’s programme. The top priority, according to Mr. Khachatrian, is to define the event’s goal, which will bring you to determining the speakers, the topics they are going to cover, and most importantly their audience. An insight into an event’s target audience will help the organizers understand what their participants and partners are looking for and give them precisely that. Further audience segmentation will ensure a detailed structure of the business programme and maximum outreach.

The lecture mentioned the importance of creating a programme’s slogan that would be succinct, catch people’s eye, and summarize the key idea of the event as a whole. It is the slogan that attracts people and is best remembered by speakers, participants, and partners, once the event’s over.   

When addressing the sequence of actions, Mr. Khachatrian highlighted the need for a programme committee at the onset: in order to become meaningful and relevant, the future sessions require a pool of subject-matter experts that will become the brain power of the whole event. The programme committee’s first task is shaping the programme’s structure, which is a vision of the future conference with its key topics that can be devised and changed until its relatable to organizers and the event’s target audience.

The programme’s first draft should be based on its structure and include a brief and condensed description of every event, as well as the topics and narratives their speakers will need to cover. It will help participants understand what they are likely to hear at the event and help speakers make their input beneficial to the event’s content. 

The next stage requires selecting and inviting speakers, which is the key point of an event’s programme preparation. It takes a lot of skill to attract subject-matter experts and persuade them to invest their time in speaking at your event. Moreover, the high profile of the event is another important factor for potential speakers that pushes them to make a decision in your favour. Building a speakers’ panel is a challenging stage that requires an insight into the audience’s tastes and the panel’s adequacy to the announced themes. It is also important to find out their manner of public speaking beforehand. This is something the future moderator will need to factor in, as their technical role is key to ensuring equal opportunities for speakers to express their thoughts and making the discussion most interesting.  

Armen Khachatrian answered questions from the audience and emphasized the importance of having a reliable team, especially when preparing and hosting large events that might include up to 20 parallel discussion. In this case, the key point of staying on track is personal control over specific sessions, which includes technical and organizational aspects (for example, making sure the speakers get the right plane tickets, an accommodation, and the Russian visa).

The audience asked particularly many questions about actions in case of a force-majeure and its frequency. The Roscongress Foundation’s Programme Director noted that one must be prepared for last-minute changes at all times, especially when it comes to high-profile speakers, whose value to the event’s content is higher than the cost of changing banners in the hall or the event format. One must also be prepared to replace speakers last minute. The audience may not even notice the force-majeure if the whole team including the session moderator act fast and seamlessly.

At the end of his lecture, Armen Khachatrian shared that conventions tend to scale down in terms of duration and number of speakers: “We see a trend of a higher number of shorter sessions with fewer speakers. It is a challenge for organizers, as many people are willing to speak and turning them down feels awkward and scary. However, this is something that has to be done, as this is the event format the audience is ready to sign up for.”

The lecture is available on the Roscongress Foundation’s YouTube channel.

To recap, on 6 July Alexander Stuglev, the CEO and Chairman of the Roscongress Foundation, gave an online lecture entitled ‘Fundamentals of Project Management for Congress Events’ as part of the National Congress Bureau (NCB) Summer Academy. CEO and Chairman of the Roscongress Foundation shared some of his key practical skills accumulated over the years of organizing congresses and exhibitions on a global scale.

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