switch~ is a super fun entertainment and networking event created in partnership with Rocky Mountain AESP. It’s about sharing sustainable energy ideas and yes we are preaching to the choir.. but that’s the point really: To bring us together outside our engineering, research, and academic realms to rant about the absurd and re-inspire our drive to keep working to better our future. The presentation concept is inspired by TEDx but uses the Ignite format where speakers have just a few minutes to present and inspire the audience about their topic. So bring together your energy change-makers, spread cutting-edge ideas, and network with other professionals who are driving social change and industry innovation. switch~ is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit event.
Below are a few guidelines to leverage when considering your own event.
Channels and Contacts:
- email: email@example.com (goes to all folks running switch~ in Colorado)
- web: switch-energy.org
- facebook: ~switch energy
- twitter: @switch_energy
- YouTube: switch~
The initial switch~ events have been a huge hit, selling out each time. Apparently there is pent up demand so feel secure about that. We don’t know the recipe for success, there likely isn’t a single one, but we do know what the primary ingredients are: rapid fire presentations (5min/20 slides); theatre style venue; good marketing effort including social media; fun and light delivery with comedy (our MC is a comedian); alcohol and eats for networking; and definitely sponsors. Essentially, if you just do anything non traditional you’ll be golden -no keynotes, no bios, no long introductions about the organizations involved, and no business pitch!
Team and Effort for an event
Being a moonlighting gig it seems best to assemble a team and divy up tasks by area of responsibility. Hold that conference call once a week and do a check in on those tasks. In order to keep time commitment to a minimum we found that having a projet manager to facilitate the call is critical and much appreciated. Roles to consider: Project Manager, Event Manager (venue, AV, day of organization), Sponsor Coordinator Speaker Coordinator, Marketing Manager, and an IT Geek to assist both with team tools as well as presentation assembly and day of projection. Google Groups is an easy list serve and file share; and Circles may be a good virtual meeting space.
It seems critical to the recipe to use an entertainment venue -theater, stage- along with alcohol bar. We’ve tried a few different models and definitely a venue with liquor license and ability to serve helps a lot and overcomes all kinds of logistic.. but it costs more. Using a community theater is fine but you may have to figure out drinks (depending on local regulations) and also AV equipment.
You need sponsors! and they want you anyway. We found that sponsors should really be a primary focus, not just the money but also for raw customer satisfaction. If you make them happy they keep supporting right. You may want to keep it an easy decision for the first event and put the sponsor options low dollar, but consider looking for annual sponsorship which will free you up to run successive events.
As for attendees we want a low price hurdle, optimally $10, but you do want to sell out!
Two levels of financing such an event to consider: $3000 level and 150 attendees; or a $7000 level and 300+ attendees. Project your costs and you’ll know what you need in sponsorship and ticket sales. Link to budget planner here.
Finding and Guiding Speakers
Ultimately this is the key to your next event. You’ll need to cultivate your speakers.. you probably already know who they are. Consider all the energy organizations and companies in your region, because they’ll be a great promotion channel in addition to the speakers sought. Make sure you give them the format up front so that they know what they’re getting into, let them know why [format]. And absolutely make sure you give them guidance (sample videos), and keep them tuned in with regular checkins so that they they feel a part of making the event a success (consider pulling them together a couple weeks before the show for a dry run).
Promoting the event
Your sponsors are key!, as are all the energy organizations; they are your promotion channels. Use organization newsletters for announcements, also local radio, and definitely social media. We have a Face Book page to use; also a Twitter handle; and definately use LinkedIn too.
Allow for networking before and at intermission; keep the whole thing well under two hours; the MC has got to be funny; make the first half longer than the second half; announce sponsors through out (smaller ones could be listed before intermission but close with a big thank you to you majors; use opening / intermission / closing slides for key images such as chapter, sponsors, team); consider a DJ or band for before and after in order to jazz up the crowd; and above all seek to sell out (pick the right sized venue).
Assistive planning documents on google
Brought to you by the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Association of Energy Services Professionals, RM-AESP.