Behind the Summit #6: Creating a Meaningful Virtual Summit Schedule

In this behind the scenes episode, you'll hear about the process I used to take my group of 35 speakers and put together a meaningful event schedule.

We’re moving right along with our Behind the Summit Series, and this week I’m taking you behind the scenes of my event schedule planning process.

Like most aspects of an online summit, a lot more goes into this than you might initially think. 

I knew this would be a big project with a lot of moving pieces (35 speakers slots and even more live sessions over 5 days!), so I wanted to wait until I had most of my speakers confirmed to work on this.

I also knew it would require setting aside time where I could focus without being disturbed. (Hard to do with an 8-month-old and 4-year-old home!) 

I was able to find a block of time to work on my event schedule this week, and that made up the bulk of my summit planning this week. 

I also finished up a few other summit related tasks including:

  • Wrapping up my speaker pitches
  • Securing sponsors for the event 
  • Tweaking my affiliate plans 
  • Tackling a few more small summit-related tasks. 

Let's dive in! 

I'm Done Pitching

Let’s start with an update on my speakers. I am done pitching speakers! I now have 35 confirmed speakers for the event and I am so excited about this event lineup. There were a few speakers in my 3rd round of pitches that I thought were a long shot who ended up agreeing to speak. It always surprises me when speakers I never would have imagined saying “yes”, actually say yes! 

If you're on the fence about pitching someone because you think they'll say no, remember there is no harm in asking, and you never know what they'll say.

One pointed out that some of the reasons she said yes were due to me knowing what she had going on, giving her all the info she needed upfront, and having such solid processes in place. Taking the time to get to know your speakers a little bit and getting organized before sending out the pitches can really pay off! 

Now that the pitching is done and we have our speaker lineup confirmed, the next step is to collect basic information from each speaker. Our deadline for submitting basic info was this week, and all but 3 got their details submitted in time! That’s pretty darn good out of 35 speakers. I'll follow up with the other 3 next week and hopefully we can get their basic info submitted soon.

Two More Summit Sponsors! (For a Total of Four)

Last week, I updated that I landed 2 unexpected sponsors and had 2 more in the works. My 3rd sponsor agreed to a $2,200 package. She wanted less than the others, but it’s still a high-value package, so I’m working on getting her onboarded this week. 

I had a call with a 4th potential sponsor since we were new to each other, and she was such a perfect fit! I’m so excited to promote this company. I sent her a package that was slightly higher than her budget, but she was excited and said “yes” and now I will work to onboard her this week, too. I’m excited to collaborate with her, not only for the summit but for Summit In A Box® as well.

I’m still in awe that I went from no sponsorship plans to 4 people approaching me and now I have over $12,000 worth of sponsorships this year. 

Promo Material Updates

 Next, I worked on my summit promotion strategy. Normally this is something that can take some serious pre-work to get your foundation laid, but because this is my 6th time running this summit, I had less to do. 

I updated all my promo copy with different dates, slightly new positioning, and new speakers, and sent info to my designer with updated graphic ideas. My biggest change is adding our Presenting Sponsor logo to the graphics, but most of this was just making small tweaks to the material we already had.

Revamping the Registration Email Sequence

Next up was the registration email sequence which goes out to attendees once they register for the summit. I revamped my sequence this year to help onboard our attendees and get them ready for an amazing summit experience before the event kicks off.

My goals that I focused on while creating the new registration sequence were:

  1. Keep the summit at the top of their mind.
  2. Get them excited for the summit.
  3. Encourage attendees to upgrade to the all-access pass. 
  4. Avoid attendee overwhelm from all presentations (35 presentations + 9 live sessions is a lot!)

If this new sequence converts well, Summit In A Box® students will get those templates in their Resources, too!

Trying something new with affiliates

In addition to creating the summit schedule, another big tasks I tackled this week was my affiliate plan. I haven’t done much with affiliates in the past because I'm so specific with my speakers. Usually, if someone comes to mind as a great fit to promote the event as an affiliate, I just invite them to join as a speaker! 

But this year, since I had such a great experience with sponsors who truly wanted to be a part of the event, I figured there might be affiliates out there who would be excited to promote the event as well. 

Here’s my current affiliate plan:

  • I posted on my IG stories asking if anyone was interested in being an affiliate and got one response right away, so that was exciting.
  • I added a P.S. to one of my registration emails to invite attendees to promote as affiliates if they want to.
  • I reached out to engaged past speakers inviting them be affiliates. I went through past spreadsheets and added people who were excited about the summit and shared, even if they didn't get awesome results.
  • I positioned it as a way to collect email addresses (by contributing to AAP) without doing any work, and I will ask them to promote at least once.

How the Summit Schedule Came Together

Tackling the summit schedule was definitely my biggest task this week. But it was also a lot of fun! This is the kind of stuff I love diving into during the summit planning process. 

My goal is always to create an intentional event schedule that takes the attendees on a journey rather than feeling like a random selection of presentations thrown together. There's a lot that goes into this, but it starts by organizing the presentations into categories, that later become daily themes.

The initial categories I came up with were:

  • Simplify your business
  • Simplify your marketing
  • Simplify your client process
  • Increase your profit
  • Just for fun

I assigned a color to each category, and then put each speaker's name on a sticky note using the color-coded system. 

I also put my sponsors on hot pink sticky notes and in the first slot of each day to highlight them.

Based on that, I sorted them into their categories, and it turned out so uneven! But with a little effort, I was able to move them around and land with 7 presentations each day. In the end, the daily themes did work out the way I had initially planned, and some of the presentations could easily fit into a few different categories. So it all worked out!

The final step was to organize the daily themes and individual time slots on each day so that the presentations build on each other from hour to hour and day to day. 

I also added sponsor-led Facebook live sessions at Noon and added engagement sessions at 7:30pm each day. The schedule worked out really well to where each of my sponsors clearly fit into different categories, which lets me feature one speaker pretty heavily each day. I did not plan for this, but I'll definitely keep it in mind next time around when considering sponsors. 

Be intentional with your schedule

Speaking of schedules, I’ve worked ahead a little bit this week because I plan to tackle a big project for Summit In A Box soon. So, if you've been following along and working on your own summit prep with me each week, don't worry if you're getting a little "behind." This is more than I normally do in one week for summit prep, but it’s never a bad idea to work ahead!

Consider how you could make a summit schedule that is more meaningful than just assigning a random order or letting speakers choose. 


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