Creating a Mission Statement for Your Event

All conferences and events need a mission statement

All conferences and events need a mission statement

There is no shortage of people out there (including me) that want to give you advice on how to run your event, how to use social media, what registration system is the best, where to place your tables, what color of linen rocks the house, or how you should format that little doo-dad that you have hanging around your neck.

Advice is, how shall we say, as common as crap and sometimes as valuable.

Now, I do not want to poo-poo all advice and the knowledge that comes with it. Some little words of wisdom and the trinkets they contain are extremely important to the success of your event. I may tell of you of a mobile app that will knock your attendees socks off and this will help your event be successful. This app however, did  not create the success of your event.

If you want your meeting or event become over the top successful, a barn burner and something that your attendees will talk about for months and years to come, you need to have one thing. One simple, little, thing.

So, what is it? What is the one thing that long lasting, amazing events all have in common? It is pretty easy. They all have a clear sense of purpose…. These amazing events all know where they need to go and that is the single thought that propels them forward.

But how do they stay on the straight and narrow and not deviate from the path to awesomeness?

They Create a Mission Statement.

Wikipedia defines a mission statement like this:

A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company, organization or person, its reason for existing.

The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”

Now the thought of creating a mission statement for an event will probably strike many event planners and producers as a stupid thing to do. A time waster if you will. They are much too busy to do something like this. They have their binders and their excel spreadsheets. They have their speakers, their content, and even their really cool social media doo-hickies that they have proudly slapped on the sidebar of their websites.

Yes, they will probably get some traction from what they do but in the end, they will lose steam because they will lose focus. But you will do better.

By creating a mission statement you stay on point, you save time, and you save a butt load of money and you skip the willy nilly stupid shit that eats other events for breakfast.

Think of your mission statement as a wall. Every idea should be thrown against the wall to see if it sticks.

Let’s Fire Up the Example Machine:

TED’s mission statement:

Our mission: Spreading ideas.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in progress, and you’re an important part of it.

SIGGRAPH Conferences – Long-Range Mission

The annual SIGGRAPH conference and its year-round initiatives provide unique crossroads for a diverse community of researchers, developers, creators, educators, and practitioners.

Our continuing mission is to be the premier annual conference on leading-edge theory and practice of computer graphics and interactive techniques, inspiring progress through education, excellence, and interaction.

You can even create mission statements for portions of your event or conference. Here is the SXSW mission statement for their environmental program:

SXSW Environmental Mission Statement

SXSW Inc. acknowledges and takes responsibility for our environmental impacts. We work hard to demonstrate leadership in our efforts to integrate principles of environmental sustainability into our organizational practices. By promoting awareness of the environmental impact that our actions have within our corporate culture, we hope to find solutions that limit, and minimize, the environmental effects of our operations and events.

What do you notice in these statements? There are no long winded goals, no lofty strategies, and no wordy bullshit. They are 100%  about what they want their events to be. Nothing more.

Mission statements are easy. Just ask yourself basic questions, “what is the purpose of your event?”, “What do you want your attendees to experience?”, “What are the things you need to do to achieve these goals?”. Now, hand your answers to your grandmother, if she gets it, you are good to go.

Here is a good one that any grandma will understand:

Ben and Jerry’s:

“To make, distribute & sell the finest quality all natural ice cream & euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.”

That pretty much sums up what they were about when they started and anyone can understand what they are about.

The Payoff

The payoff for having a clear mission statement is clear, rock solid focus.

You now have a pinpoint idea of what it is you are trying to achieve. Now, when you are looking to start a social media program you can say “how does this help us with our mission”. When you are booking a new speaker you can say “do they align with our mission”. When you are looking to change the date or venue of your event you can see if it matches up and if it aligns.

A mission statement is not for the public, it is for you and your team, although you should never be afraid to share a good one.

A mission statement helps you on your way to the destination but it is not your GPS system. Rather, it is the power cord for the GPS system, it is the power to make changes and do what is right for your attendees and nothing more.

Image: gruntzooki


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Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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