Roundtables often feature within our campaigns for clients. They are one of the key tactics we use to help get them in front of their target audience and build relationships, especially within new sectors.
In fact, just last week we hosted a roundtable event with our client, Accoya, to gather architects’ opinion on the tensions between modernism and traditionalism and how to ensure that the ‘spirit of the place’ is retained as our towns and cities evolve.
They are an opportunity for industry professionals to come together and discuss a topic that matters to them. Hosting such an event showcases your organisation’s understanding of your target audience, and how they can help them.
So, if you’ve decided a roundtable is a great way to reach your audience, you may be wondering, how do you ensure it is a success?
There are a number of elements to consider when planning your event. So, we’ve pulled together the six key considerations for any roundtable:
Setting clear objectives and KPIs
Asking yourself what you want to achieve by hosting a roundtable is a crucial first step. Is it to ignite change within the sector? Is it to raise brand awareness?
Once you know the answer, it is important to set yourself clear objectives and ambitious but realistic key performance indicators (KPIs) which align with your organisation’s overarching objectives. These will demonstrate why hosting a roundtable is the best tactic to achieve your business goals and help you to measure success afterwards.
Usually, a target is placed on the number of attendees. Here, it’s vital to prioritise quality over quantity. Whilst having too few may mean the event is not an effective use of resources, too many can also be detrimental. The conversation may be hindered by people not getting the chance to speak or breaking off into smaller groups.
Quality must also come from the types of people being invited, you should target those in roles that would be useful future connections, such as decision makers.
Choosing the right topic
Here’s where understanding the target audience is critical – the topic you select is often the biggest pull for attendees.
You should aim to choose something topical, that’s in the current news agenda and has already led to much debate within your target sector. Ultimately, it needs to be a topic people care about and want to discuss.
Alongside a topic that resonates with people, it’s also important to consider the purpose behind the roundtable. This links back to why you’ve decided to host the roundtable in the first place but also needs to go one step further. For fruitful, genuine conversation that the target audience wants to engage with, the purpose should avoid sounding sales-led.
Just as the topic can be a huge pull for attendees, so can the host. So, it is critical to do your research and pick someone people want to hear from. This could be a speaker who you’ve seen do an inspiring TedTalk on an associated topic, an industry expert who is often seen speaking at sector events, or even a researcher who may bring a different perspective to your target audience.
It can also be worth considering a further speaker that could add useful insight to the discussion or be a valuable person for guests to put their questions to. For example, we recently hosted a roundtable on incoming food waste recycling laws and secured the attendance of a Welsh government minister. This was a huge pull for attendees and a great contact for the client who has had further meetings with them to discuss the implementation of the new laws. It is a great example which demonstrates just how impactful a roundtable can be.
The guest list
For many organisations, often the guest list is the most important part. Here, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Who is your target audience? Who in that industry would be a worthwhile contact to make? Also, who is already discussing the topic, would be interested in joining the discussion and would add an interesting perspective on the topic?
Social media, such as LinkedIn, is a great tool to utilise to answer these questions and pull together the guest list. A simple trick we often use is searching for hashtags that link with the topic. This will bring to the fore people who are already discussing the topic and would, therefore, make great additions to your guest list.
In addition to this, be mindful to explore roles and sectors that were identified as targets when setting objectives and KPIs. You can also make the most of your existing network. When we host roundtables for clients, we often call on our own industry contacts which could make great introductions.
Selecting the right date, location and venue
For any event, logistics are key. For experienced event organisers, these aspects may seem obvious, however they can also play a key role in attendees choosing to come or not. For example, if a well-established industry event is taking place, it can be worthwhile organising your roundtable as a fringe event. This can make it easier to secure attendees as many will already be in the local area.
When it comes to location, if you would like to grow your business in a certain area of the country, or a specific region of the UK is particularly well-known in your industry, it can certainly be worthwhile hosting your roundtable there.
The venue is key, too. Depending on your budget, there are lots of nice meeting rooms which you can hire for the event. However, you might want to consider where your target audience would like to be invited to. If they are interior designers, maybe the look of the venue has a role to play in the discussion, whereas if they are architects maybe you want them viewing stunning or contrasting buildings sparking ideas on the way to the event.
Maximising the event
Once the event has passed and you’ve had great feedback from the attendees, that doesn’t mean it’s over. You now need to think about what’s next.
Bringing it back to objectives and KPIs can help. Often the main aim was to meet with industry professionals that you can continue to work with in future. So, how can you harvest those relationships?
We often have feedback from attendees and even those that could not attend who want to see the next steps. Creating content for social media, blogs and reports can be a great way to share insights following the session and keep your audience engaged. You can even consider follow-up activity, such as a webinar that answers some of the key questions or gaps that were highlighted during the discussion.
Ultimately, there are lots of different elements which come into creating a great roundtable and ensuring the success is long-lived. Get in touch if you’d like support hosting yours.