Today I left an event 45 minutes later than it was scheduled to end. And yeah, I was super annoyed. By now you probably know I’m an organized person (so organized, I married a CPA) and I like events to start and end on time. Nothing annoying me more when networking than an event that starts late and ends late. It’s disrespectful of the event attendees and makes me wonder what you’d do if I gave you my money.
Here’s the deal – sometimes your event will run long. Sometimes you may want to leave the event open ended, especially if it’s a networking event, and that’s FINE. Put a schedule around it (5:30 event starts, 6:00 remarks, 7pm raffle, end ???) and I’ll know that I’m free to leave after the raffle (or before, but I LOVE free stuff).
If you’re hosting events, here’s 4 suggestions for what to do when your event runs long:
- Make an announcement at the time the event was supposed to end – This is being respectful of your attendees. “Hey it’s 2:30 which is when I said this would be over, I think we’ll be about another 20 minutes, but I understand if you need to leave now.” and I would have been a happy camper.
- Start on Time – Sounds simple right? But so many people say “let’s just give folks a few more minutes to get here.” Guess what? We all knew when this event started. Yes parking sucks, yes traffic sucks, yes I left 10 minutes late so I could get ONE MORE THING DONE but that’s not the host’s fault. If I’m late and I walk in and the event has started I’m OK with that. I knew I was late. Start with some simple housekeeping and introductions so stragglers have a chance to come in but not interrupt too much.
- Cut out the fluff – We arrived at 1pm and at about 5 after the event host said that we were going to informally network for about 15 minutes, so we just talked to the people next to us, but it was a small enough group we could have just done group introductions. WHICH after the 15 minutes we did. So…yeah, there’s 20 minutes that could have been saved.
- End on Time. Test this stuff folks. You know how many people you’re expecting and how long activities might go. You know what you’re talking about and how long that content will go. YES you’ll have long winded people in the room, learn how to cut them off politely, trust me, the rest of the room will thank you for it.