Dry runs are essential for successful marketing events

Dry runs are essential for successful marketing events

The marketing event. Whether it’s a webinar, a virtual, or a live event, it’s a great way for organizations to get their stories heard, which generates awareness and leads.

If well-executed, events can be a win-win-win for attendees, organizations, and presenters. Marketing event planners do everything in their power to ensure events run smoothly, and that the audience feels their time, and often money, was well-spent.

Yet even the most well-run event can risk failure if one thing doesn’t happen: The dry run.

Dry runs help speakers become familiar with the event

“Orientation meetings or dry runs offer speakers an opportunity to become familiar with the people, technology, and tools that are part of any event,” says Jodi Sniegocki Kerhulas, Education and Events Director at Modern Healthcare. “Whether you are presenting live or pre-recording, the dry run is essential to ensure a smooth experience for you and your audience.

“On the day of your presentation, arrive at your session with confidence knowing that any issues identified in the dry run have been corrected and the audience is paying attention to you and your content.”

As a marketing and communications professional, I’ve managed and attended hundreds of events. Yet I can’t recall a single event where every single speaker showed up for and truly conducted a dry run.

The paid speakers always conducted a dry run. But speakers from our own company, who were trying to persuade our audience, often didn’t even bother to show up or arrived completely unprepared.

In defense of speakers, they have the best intentions and want to get their message heard. So how do we help them?

If you’re a marketing event planner, here are three things you can do to encourage speakers to attend a dry run.

How to encourage speakers to attend a dry run:

  1. Incent them to show up.
  2. Schedule more than one dry run.
  3. Share recordings with speakers.

Incent speakers to show up for dry runs

If your speakers are signing a contract or speaking agreement, ensure it includes a mandatory dry run. That way you have a legally binding way to entice speakers to rehearse.

If you don’t use contracts, find creative ways to entice your speakers. Let them attend the rest of the event or a future event free or pay for their travel and/or expenses.

Many company-sponsored events don’t require speakers from their own organizations to sign any form of agreement. The companies I worked at never did. Perhaps it’s time to start. A formal agreement can help internal speakers take the event more seriously.

Female business presenter advancing slide.
For a successful event, ensure your speakers show up for the dry run.

If you’re not able to put an agreement in place for your event, find other ways to entice internal speakers to show up for the dry run. Can you give them a gift card? Can you speak with their manager to get them an extra day of vacation?

And always remind them that, to ensure their message gets heard, they need to respect their audience.

The more you can do upfront to ensure speakers show up for the dry run, the higher your chances for success.

Schedule more than one dry run

We are all busy. We have competing priorities, we have to manage the urgent versus the important, and we can’t control unforeseen emergencies.

We’ve all planned to show up for a meeting only to have our day derailed by an urgent client call or an ill pet or child.

As the event planner, be proactive upfront: schedule at least two dry runs. I recommend three – two before the event and one during or the day before. If it’s a live event, ensure you provide time for speakers to rehearse in the room where they will present.

Scheduling more than one dry run ensures better presentations if speakers show up for every meeting. And it helps ensure they will be able to attend at least one of them.

 Share recordings with speakers

One other way to persuade speakers to show up for the dry run is to share recordings of previous presentations they’ve given. Sharing recordings reminds speakers that this is real, it’s coming, and they want to do a great job.

When listening to a recording of ourselves, most of us find at least one or two things we want to improve. This can be a great incentive to rehearse and attend dry runs.

If you don’t have a previous recording, record their next presentation to be prepared for future events.

Webinars, events, and conferences are great ways to improve your organization’s brand awareness and lead generation. Ensuring all speakers conduct a dry run contributes to the success of your event and getting your story heard.

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