The number one question I ask people when they ask me for tips on how to host an online summit is: Why do you want to run a summit?
Before anything, you need to decide if you want to put a good amount of your time and energy for a couple of months into creating one. Yes, months. Plural.
Perhaps you saw the Soul Fire Summit and thought to yourself, I should do that! Laura seems successful with it.
Maybe you’ve seen others rise from online nobody to expert status by running a summit, and you’d like that for yourself. Or think that it’s something you need to do in order to be successful.
Well, you don’t. Not unless it calls to you.
If it is something that you’re willing to put a lot of effort toward, then I welcome you!
Running a summit is a ton of fun and can definitely lead to: list growth, expert status, sales, etc. as long as you do it for the right reasons and do a quality job of putting it together.
While I don’t know everything there is to know about running an online summit, as there are many different ways of doing it, I can speak about my own experience and some of the things I’ve learned through putting one together.
Here are a few of my many lessons learned from running an online summit:
1 – DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
The “right” reasons, while they differ from person to person, are felt from the inside out. First, it will make you feel warm and fuzzy, and will radiate out to the speakers you attract to work with you as well as the viewers you attract to your summit.
For me, I wanted to connect with high-level individuals who I see as being successful, and also extremely soulful in the way they do business and life.
On a personal level, I wanted to know their secrets and get a backstage pass into their worlds. I admire them!
On a professional level, I wanted to share their amazing presence with my community! I can’t be everything to everyone, and connecting and working with top-quality players is essential for me to support my clients and community in the biggest way possible.
Yes, I almost doubled my list.
But if I were doing this simply for a number on an email provider account? Who knows what kinds of people would end up there.
Instead, I know that the influx of humans into my world is based on the fact that they’re AMAZING and value quality and authenticity.
2 – LESS IS MORE – AS LONG AS IT’S QUALITY
When I first started planning the summit, I thought I needed 24 speakers, minimum.
Whoa nelly! I ended up working with 21 fantastic entrepreneurs over 20 total interviews. It was amazing…and it was also a lot of work.
If you’re just getting started, maybe pick a smaller number. Anything five and up and you’ve got yourself an online event!
3 – HAVE A POWERFUL THEME
This is something I learned partway through my experience. It started out when I was actually under a different business that was health-focused. I couldn’t come up with a solid theme for months and ended up choosing, “The She’s Got Guts Adventure Summit.”
My idea was to make health FUN.
It’s a great theme… but it really didn’t call to me. I realized I was trying to make it FUN because I didn’t think my business was fun anymore.
So, pick a theme that’s powerful and that you can enjoy talking about for months and months.
Lighting soul fires and sparking success in aspiring entrepreneurs? That’s something I truly want to talk about with every human I meet! Hence, the perfect theme for me.
4 – INVITE FROM THE HEART
Again, there are a lot of “theories” about who to invite to speak in your summit.
First and foremost, make sure you actually want to speak with this person. It doesn’t matter how many people they have on their list if you can’t stand talking to them or their marketing feels sleazy.
I invited folks that I admire and wanted to know more about. Or people that I work with and know personally, so therefore know they’re super authentic and rock their businesses.
And I sent each invitation with a personal message. Sure, I copied and pasted the details of the event for the most part, but the beginning of each email came with a special note as to why I was inviting them in particular and how it would be beneficial for their community.
5 – MORE IS MORE – WHEN IT COMES TO TIME
Give yourself double the amount of time you think you need to pull this off. Seriously.
I spent about three months in total on the Soul Fire Summit. However, the first month I spent dilly-dallying and thinking that I had more time.
You need time to make decisions and plan, invite speakers, interview speakers, edit interviews, write copy, create a website, promote, and actually host the event. That’s a lot of steps!
6 – GET QUALITY SUPPORT
You do not need to do this alone. The whole point of launching a summit is to connect with other people.
Let people help you!
I had more support than ever before in putting my event together… and things still fell through the cracks.
Look into hiring an OBM for the big picture, a VA for the nitty gritty tasks, a designer for the site, and a copywriter for the promotional copy. It’s so worth it.
7 – ASKING IS BETTER THAN ASSUMING
Ask your people (no matter how many there are) what they want. Ask them who they want to hear from (aka who you should ask for an interview), ask them what topics they want to know about, ask them if they prefer audio or video.
The one thing I wish I had spent more time asking my community about: Frequency of emails.
I assumed that people wouldn’t want to receive a daily email with the featured speakers and link to watch.
Oh boy, was I wrong!
Most people prefer it. And I had a ton of questions about who was speaking and where the link to watch was. That was a HUGE lesson for me.
As long as you’re sending quality content, people want to hear from you. Don’t let “professional business marketers” scare you out of serving your community the best that you can.
8 – SCHEDULE, SCHEDULE, SCHEDULE
This is the most important part of running a business and of hosting an online summit. You need to have your scheduling system shit together in a big way.
Does this mean you’re perfectly organized? No.
It means you pick a calendar and you use it. It means you decide on a scheduler and you use it.
9 – TECH HAPPENS
If Skype stops working, your internet crashes, your website gets an error code.
If the audio is funky. If you forgot to hit record. If you post on Facebook and the text doesn’t post with the graphic.
If your fancy calendar doesn’t remind you that you have an interview and you miss it. If you need to reschedule something. If the sound stops working on your computer.
If any or all of the above happens…
BREATH. It’s perfectly normal.
Tech happens. No matter how prepared you are.
People will understand. If they don’t… they probably aren’t people you want in your community, anyway.
10 – LOVE ‘EM!
No one is going to love your interviews, your topics, your theme, your passion, or your purpose more than you.
Make it your mission to serve.
Serve your speakers by thanking them (perhaps with a hand-written note!).
Serve your community by providing them with the best you can give.
Serve your team by making strong decisions and communicating what you need from them.
Serve your family and friends by telling everyone what you’re doing (so they know why you’re glued to your computer!).
Serve yourself by taking care of yourself and allowing help to come in – whether that’s your husband cooking more often, someone to help you clean, or simply a smile or kind note.
Serve and you will be served in return 🙂
I know that that was a LOT of information. There is a ton of work and love and play and energy that goes into pulling off any event – whether in person or digital.