You know that moment when you’re watching a television show, and one of the characters is in mortal danger, or the two characters whom you just know have to end up together have a special moment where they just might kiss, and then there’s a commercial? Or worse, the episode ends? And you ball your hands into fists and scream at the sky, “NOOOO!” Most of us know that moment. It’s a universal tactic: If you end on a note where the audience just has to know what happens next, you’ve got them hooked for another episode. Or, in the world of your employee resource group, another meeting.
The best way to make your meetings effective and keep your momentum is to bring that audience back time after time. This does require a little more planning ahead, but don’t worry—it’s not that hard.
First, look at your long-term goals. Consider not only the next event’s aim but the overarching aim for the month, or the quarter, or the year. What do you want to accomplish in the long term, and what will get you there? If you plan your events as a series, there will be a common theme or thread tying everything together, and your audience will have a feeling of moving forward.
Similarly, if possible, work on scheduling your speakers through multiple events. If you know what the topic or focus of your next three events will be, find those speakers right now! See who is available and get them committed to attending.
An alternative option, if you can work something out with the speaker, is to have that guest come back multiple times. Perhaps the speaker herself has several topics she can discuss. If it’s possible to schedule someone for multiple events, it might attract an audience who liked hearing from her the first time. And make the most of your speaker, whether she’s a one-time visitor a repeat guest. See if she can stay for a meet-and-greet. It could benefit your group and its members in the long run if there are networking opportunities with your guest speakers.
Another good practice is to announce future events and other activities. Is there a community outreach event coming up? A convention? A Q&A with company leaders? Using your event to announce other plans and upcoming meetings is yet another way to keep that momentum.
By doing just these two things, you can create a sort of through-line for your events. At the end of one event, you can tease the next one. Hint to the audience (or tell them outright) what the topic will be. Promise them a progression. And announce the speaker. You’ve already got your audience right there at the first event: Why not finish it off by getting them interested in the next event early? Do what the shows do! Set things up, and pique their interest so that they “tune in next time.”
The truth of the matter is, it’s a lot harder to get something started than to keep it going. It can be tough to attract new viewers, but once an audience is invested in a show, they’ll keep watching. The same goes for your Employee Resource Group: It can be tough to get that off the ground, but once you’ve got your group and things are moving, you have the means to maintain that progress and keep it heading for the horizon. Be like the TV show that makes viewers go wild when the episode is over—get your audience to anticipate that next event and the great speaker you’re going to have.