I get it. A summit is a great way to build your list and the lists of the speakers. Excellent. I've attended a number of online summits and "docuseries" over the years. In 2020 I've attended three summits. I build websites for a living. I understand "tech" and all the concepts of what y'all are doing (or trying to do). I believe this gives me a decent perspective as an attendee to give you the following tips.

NOTE: I do not create summit sites and won't so please don't ask me to. I'm writing this from the perspective of an attendee because so many of these summits are horrible from a tech perspective and I'm tired of it.

1. Make sure your emails work

When someone signs up for your summit, they get an email - or perhaps a series of emails. Make sure they work. Make sure they're getting them in the order you want them to get them. Don't send them an email that says "login here" when the email with the login credentials hasn't arrived yet. Or even worse, you tell them to login for the bonuses but they never were provided any login credentials because that email never arrived.

In the case of the login credentials never arriving, the attendee doesn't even know the email never arrived. They just figure you missed that step and will email your support or help desk. On that note...

2. Make sure your help desk has a forking clue

When one of the summits I attended said to "login for bonuses" but I hadn't received any account credentials, I contacted help because the login box wasn't behaving either. I explained in a very detailed fashion what the issue was but the help desk person was totally clueless. They had no idea what I was talking about and sent me some "canned" reply that clearly was the answer to a different problem.

In the meantime whilst waiting for the initial reply, I figured out that there was a login module that worked on a different page. I submitted a "forgot password" because I knew there was a login for me somewhere. But bottom line, make sure your support people are given the technical wherewithal to actually help your attendees. If this happened to me, imagine what it does to an attendee with zero tech knowledge.

3. Make sure your server can handle the traffic

Set up a monitor on your site. If it's going down a lot or speed is sucking, upgrade your server! This is a cost you should plan for at the beginning even if you don't need it at first. It should be as easy as contacting your host and upgrading. Your attendees shouldn't have to deal with slow load times or not being able to access your summit at all.

4. Add speed control and closed captioning to your videos

THIS IS MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE AS AN ATTENDEE. When you set up your videos on Vimeo or wherever else you place them, you'll have the option of including speed control on the video so that attendees can view it faster or slower. LET THE ATTENDEE CHOOSE HOW FAST THEY WANT TO VIEW THE VIDEOS. This is really important. Closed captioning shows respect for those that are hearing impaired. SO DO IT. Who are you to think no one with disabilities are visiting your summit? RUDE. Include closed captioning and speed control.

Nice to have is when you hover over the timeline a little preview box of what's happening in the video at the different time stamps. This can be very helpful when wanting to go back to a slide or some portion of the video to re-watch. Please give people these options.

5. Charge less than $40 USD for your online access and transcripts

You'll sell a lot more packages when you keep the price low. Of the three summits I attended before June 2020, I bought one of the unlimited online access packages. And I bought it before the summit even started. Why? Because I was interested in the content and the cost was less than $40. The other two the packages were more like $79 or $97 - great numbers, sure. But come on, if you keep it below $40 it's a no brainer. People will do it because it's cheap enough not to think about. And if they have to think about it you only have a 50/50 shot that they'll buy it.

Under $40. Just suck it up and do it. You'll make up the difference in volume.

6. Always allow people at least 48 hours for your "encore"

This shouldn't be an issue for most online summits, but I've seen them with only 24 hours and that's not long enough. People need 48 hours and preferably on the weekend.

It would be nice if you started your summit on whatever day that it ends on the next Friday. Then the "encore" can happen the next day. This leads into...

7. Don't make the attendees wait a week for your "encore"

This happened to me this year. The summit ended on a Sunday. And then they waited until the following weekend for the encore. Insanity. Not only that but they didn't send any emails between the end of the summit and the encore weekend. My forehead was completely scrunched wondering how this strategy was decided on.

These are lesser tips that I don't even really care about but they make sense so I'll list them:

  • Don't make them too many days
  • Don't have too many speakers
  • It's fine that the speakers want to grow their lists, but make sure they've checked their tech. I signed up for some newsletters or a freebie that was "only for summit attendees" that I never saw anything from them ever. Bad tech. Get a grip people.

I hope this helps you put on a successful online summit. While I won't build you a summit site (so please don't ask me), I am willing to answer any questions you have as a consultant. The cost is $300/hr for summit consulting. It would include listening to you and giving you my opinion. If interested, contact me.

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