052: Summit Timing, Length, and Size Q&A

summit basics Feb 11, 2020

Not sure when to host your summit or how many speakers to have?

In this episode I'm answering all your schedule and timing questions including when the best time is to host a summit, what day of the week it should start, how many speakers you should have, and more!


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Hey, Hey, welcome to the Summit Host Hangout podcast where you'll learn how to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit, no influencer status necessary. I'm your host, Krista from Summit In A Box, and we're currently on a break from our regular series format for a fun Q and A episode today. I get so many questions related to how long a summit should be, how many speakers there should be, all that kinds of stuff. So today in episode 52 we're going to get all of those questions answered. You know I'm not one to sit here and waste time, so let's dive right in.

Which is when is the best time to host a summit?

You guys know what my answer is going to be. But overall this will depend on your topic and audience. For example, most of the time, December would not be great for a summit for online business owners because we're checked out, we're thinking about the holidays, we're trying to wrap up those final goals for the current year while still dreaming up a whole bunch of new goals for the next year. We're distracted and not likely to pay attention to something for too long, but if your business is related to planning or maybe you even sell a planner, a December summit could be a great thing for you to do. I'm sure there are other examples of summits that could work great in December, but that was the most obvious answer I wanted to give you to kind of wrap your mind around the idea of times that won't work well for a summit.

There are a few questions I want you to consider when you're trying to figure out your timeframe. First, when is your audience most motivated to take action? If there's a time of the year or a certain season where they're more motivated than others that's a great time to host a summit. Also think about when are they the least distracted, what time of year do they have, you know, not as much going on so they can really focus on an incredible event you're going to host. And what are holidays you should watch out for.

Now for me, I don't have a great answer for myself for that first question of when is your audience most motivated to take action? But I do know that they're super distracted all summer long while their kids are out of school and they just kind of want to be outside enjoying the weather. Maybe going on some vacations so you will never see me launch a summit in June through August unless I start some new random business. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that that doesn't happen. But I also know that they tend to check out in December and January. Like I said before, for the holidays and for planning and to get started on new goals or finish up old ones so you won't see me do one then either. I also do my very best to avoid any major US holidays since most of my audience is in the US. Although I did forget to look at my calendar closely in 2019 and ended up holding my kickoff call on Easter Sunday, which was a little bit of an oops there, but it worked out.

Anytime where your audience isn't distracted by other things is perfect. If there's a certain time of year when they're more motivated to take action, that's even better. But think about what's going to be best for you. And also don't overthink this decision. Whenever you do it is to be fine.

What day of the week should my summit start?

This answer is going to depend for every person, but it will depend on how long your summit is and who you are serving through it. So, for example, my summits up to this point have been five days long and are for designers who run their own businesses. Since my audience is not around on the weekends and they tend to enjoy time with their family instead, my summits are always Monday through Friday. That's when they're around to pay attention to this kind of thing. If I did a three day summit instead, I would probably choose to start my summit on a Tuesday so I could do an opening call on Monday and have that extra day to drive registrations.

But to take a different angle to give you as an example, I recently attended a three or four day summit for parents of toddlers and that summit ran Friday through I think Monday and this worked out really well since most parents of toddlers are working during the week and don't have time to sit and watch presentations not related to work, but their schedule does tend to be a little more open on the weekends as much as toddlers will allow at least. So that was a great choice for that host to make.

And you can consider the same thing with your summit's timing. If your audience is business owners who are currently working full time jobs, you might even choose to run your presentations in the evening after normal work hours, but really there's no right answer. Just consider what is going to work best with the way your audience works.

How long should my summit be? Is two days too short?

This is another question where I don't think there's a right answer. Personally I would not go less than two days because two days or less seems like a lot of work for such a small summit. Like at that point there's not really much of a downside for adding one extra day but if it's going to make it feel more doable for you or if your audience will only be able to watch maybe on a weekend and you want to do like a Saturday and Sunday summit, a two day event might be perfect. In general though, the sweet spot is three to five days. I have seen summit go up to two weeks and that I will tell you is too much. Three to five days is a great time to give your audience a lot of great information, have enough speakers that you're really increasing your reach with their promotion but not exhaust everyone in the meantime.

For a three day summit, how many speakers should I have and how much is too much?

For a first time summit, I do not recommend going over five speakers per day. Those days of the summit are exhausting and I want to make sure you know what you bargained for with that. For a three day summit, that would land at about 15 speakers. However, don't go to smaller either, which is a lesson I learned in my second summit, which I don't tell you guys much about. Because I thought it would be a great idea to have a five day summit I'm saying in air quotes with one speaker a day and then like implementation times, so each day had a theme. We were really focused on that presentation. We all got together for some co-working sessions, but I found that that wasn't even worth hosting compared to a big event. It was just as much work with way, way, way less return.

I think that 20 to 30 is a great number. I have seen really incredible summits be run with 15 speakers, so really it's up to you. I like to have the 20 to 30 mark because it's a lot of presentations for everybody to choose from. It's a lot of promo power with those 20 to 30 speakers helping me promote, but it's not like too much that the audience can't even make sense of all the presentations they're seeing listed. Personally, I don't give myself a set number of speakers. I make my list of people I want to pitch, I make my list of topics I want included, and if that ends up being a nice round number, that's cool. But if it's not like I don't care, I don't care if the presentations started at the same time every day, I don't care if there's exactly five presentations per day. Whatever happens, happens. What I'm concerned with is that my audience is getting the information that they need from people who can deliver well. So I would like you to focus on that also.

Is there a sweet spot for the length of time for speaker videos?

I will give you a set answer on this one. I think 30 minutes of super actionable content is a great place to be. It means people can consume that content in one sitting, but it's still enough to get really great information. However, I do not think it's important that all of your presentations are the same length. I like to give a minimum and a maximum. I do about 25 to 45 minutes and let the presentations be as long as they need to be for my speakers to deliver their content effectively. I have had two attendees in the past complain that not all of the presentations are exactly the same and I don't know what to plan for because of that. And my answer is, does it really matter? Like, no, it doesn't really matter. So know that, Hey, you might have some interesting people reach out to you because of that, but really what matters is that your speakers have the freedom they need to craft a really great presentation.

How much time should I leave between the end of a one presentation and the beginning of another for people to not feel overwhelmed?

I think 15 to 30 minutes here is a great number. If it's on the higher end of that, encourage people to take time during that break to implement between presentations. So take the action steps the speaker gave and get started on them and the lower end of that is great too because they might have time to grab some food, take a quick bathroom break, maybe jot down some extra notes and dive right back into the next presentation. But again, don't overthink that one.

Overall, the decisions you make about your summit timing, length, size are going to depend on your audience, your topic and your preference. So don't get caught up in these small decisions that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things and just move forward with your planning.

Action Step

My action step for you today is to make these decisions and move on and also keep in mind that you can always adjust if you get you know, into your planning phase and you realize, Oh, I wish I had left more time between my presentations or less. You can always adjust your schedule. You can always move things around if you need to and it's not a big deal to do that. Everyone will understand.

Thank you so much for into this episode. I'm sure you can see that giving yourself the right amount of time to plan and think about things and launch your summit is vital to creating a successful event rather than one that looks thrown together. With my free virtual summit prep timeline, you can see the amount of time I recommend setting aside for a summit, my top tips I'll look at, the big picture tasks and even a timeline calculator to make sure you plan everything right the first time. So get the virtual summit prep timeline by going to summithosthangout.com/timeline.

In the next episode, we'll be chatting about crafting an engaging event, so be sure to tune in for that. Now go out and take action to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit.




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