What is the best time to host a business event?
Choosing the best time for an event — whether it’s a corporate event, conference or networking meetup — is an important part of planning and can make all the difference between an event that attendees will remember or one that falls deaf on uninspired ears.
Finding that sweet-spot in time provides all kinds of benefits for your event. Attendees will be more likely to retain key information and far more willing to engage with you after the event. Having your audience in the right frame of mind for an event will depend on the time of year, day of the week or even time of the day — which is why we’ve put together this handy guide for you.
Conferences, Seminars and Large Corporate Events
When it comes to larger gatherings, it’s important to remember that you’re trying to make as many of the attendees as happy and comfortable as possible.
This means there are key times of the year you absolutely should avoid, primarily in the middle of summer and winter. Holding an event close to the New Year is a sure fire way of ensuring much lower attendance, as that time marks an annual holiday migration for many people around the world. Temperature is also a factor, as both the scorching weather in summer and lower temperatures in winter can create a huge amount of discomfort for event attendees. If the audience is focused on keeping cool or warm, they aren’t focused on your content.
Depending on the tone or objective of a seminar, there’s also a best day of the week to hold an event. For more business-orientated offerings, Tuesday to Thursday is ideal, as you’ll avoid the sluggishness many workers feel on a Monday and the “almost weekend” attitude of a Friday.
However, the more fun-orientated Friday outlook can most certainly be harnessed by conferences looking to engage in a lighter subject matter and feature a lively Q&A session.
Team Building Events
The Friday fun rule applies to team-building events as well. With everyone looking forward to their days off, they’re already in the mood for a good time and will welcome the transition from work to weekend.
It’s not uncommon for companies to carry a team building out over an entire weekend as this allows for a healthy team bonding experience without hampering productivity. This is much easier to plan in organisations with employees who have flexible schedules and may not be as appropriate for those with bigger weekend commitments, e.g. parents of a newborn.
And, of course, there’s always the annual staples like Melbourne Cup Day celebrations and office holiday parties.
When it comes to networking, dinner and cocktail events are almost always the best route. An evening event, particularly on a Thursday, means that attendees don’t have the burden of a week’s worth of tasks on their shoulders. And a glass of wine or a beer and good food helps lower the barriers we usually put up, making the conversation flow that much more easily.
As with business-focussed conferences, the best days of the week to hold board or shareholder meetings tend to be Tuesday-Thursday.
In terms of timing, 10AM in the morning is an ideal choice as this allows everyone the chance to settle into their work while still having that start-of-day energy. However, most people will experience some sluggishness after lunch so afternoon meetings are best left until 3PM when they’ll feel revitalised, yet not distracted as the end of the day is still a couple of hours away.
Trade shows can be a bit harder to schedule as their traditions will depend on your chosen industry, however it is important to avoid other well-established trade shows in that industry.
For example, a tech trade show should probably avoid the month of March as GDC and SXSW will garner much of the press and public attention. Find a time when there aren’t many other events on and yours is much more likely to make the headlines.
Though the optimal time to launch a product also depends on your industry, it’s usually best practice to schedule the press conference at 10AM on Tuesday-Thursday. Those are often seen as slower news days, which gives you more chance of wider coverage. A mid-morning timing means your product can be discussed online and in the papers over the course of the day and on TV in the primetime evening news.
All in all, the best time for an event varies on your objective and what kind of event it is, but if you can adhere to the best practice guidelines we’ve outlined, your event will be that much more likely to be a winner.