The Human Side of Hosting a Summit

We’re all in this together.

There are a lot of summits out there. Heck, we have over 20 of them this year! As an attendee, you see the topic, host, speakers and you make a decision on whether the content is relevant to you and/or your family.

But, what you don’t see is the work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s truly a story of people coming together to:

  • Shine a light on a struggle
  • Educate about options for those enduring that struggle
  • Hope those options assist with healing

Yet, there is this piece that you don’t see, the hours upon hours of work–and I’m not talking about the work that Health Talks Online does–but the work the hosts do, whether they are flying solo or have a team dedicated to the project.

In almost all cases, a host who has a team working on a summit has the connections to pick up the phone and know that his or her speakers are going to promote, also knows that a good portion of peers in the online health industry will do the same even though they aren’t speaking at the event.

But, we also team up with individuals who don’t have a team, but have an idea that they believe can help the world heal. And, in almost all of those cases, they don’t have existing relationships with industry icons, they don’t have a huge database of emails, they don’t have tens of thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

They just have a dream, and an amazing work ethic toward achieving it.

“Running a summit feels like running for office. You’re reaching out to everyone, asking for support. You’re making deals. But you have a goal that is bigger than you, and you just have to keep at it.” ~Bridgit Danner, LAc and host of Hormones: A Women’s Wellness Summit

We’ve had some incredible hosts who put their lives on pause, stopped seeing patients, quit working on a book–totally stopped generating any revenue whatsoever–and banked every minute of every hour into building a summit with the hope that at the end of the event, they are financially whole with a new group of followers who resonate with their voice and message.

The HTO platform can get them a long way there, but without them making human connections, it simply can’t be a success. And, in fact, HTO doesn’t make it easy on the hosts because we don’t let them automatically keep the email addresses of those who register for the event–it’s one thing to say, “Yes, I want this event content,” and another, we believe, for an attendee to say, “Yes, I want this host’s content after the event.” So, hosts have to earn another opt-in to their own list above and beyond that of the summit itself.

These hosts who don’t have a following, who don’t have relationships, who are banking their lives on an event, have to be very, very selective in who they chose to interview as speakers. They need amazing interview content and a promise to promote from that speaker. An individual who is new to the health space probably isn’t going to get promotion from any of the big names if they aren’t speaking at the event, and the big names who are speaking are hesitant to commit to promoting the summit of a newbie given all of the other promotions they are engaged in and committed to.

That’s why we, at HTO, say to potential speakers, “A successful event depends on promotion from all speakers!” If you don’t plan to promote, then don’t agree to speak, because the worst thing a speaker can do to someone who has sacrificed so much is to back out of their promise to promote.

It can be devastating.

We’re talking about a host who is counting opt-ins to an event in their sleep, if stress even allows them to sleep. They are doing the math, using the conversion percentages we send them, and working day and night to meet the minimum that we project will get them to a point where they don’t, at least, lose money.

And then, a speaker backs out of promotion at the last minute or, even worse, stops responding to emails and phone calls after they finish their interview. Sigh.

We can’t replace a big name who does that. Can’t replace their reach or their interview. It really hurts the host who has sacrificed so much, asked for so little, and is counting on just enough help from the industry to start a movement. And it forces HTO to make future summit hosts aware that a speaker they’d like to contact has a history of skipping out on promotion. We don’t don’t like to be in this position, but we have to do this; it’s our responsibility to the success of future hosts and their events.

And, in those smaller summits, HTO makes nothing. We pay our contractors what they invoiced for editing, transcription, graphic design, coding, etc. but the management side of the company itself loses money–yet, it is still vital to us that we’re contributing to the dreams of our hosts and the possible solutions for the ailments discussed. We might take a hit, but these hosts come back to us over and over again, they become speakers at other events, promoters of our promotions and the like…our relationship grows over the years because we invested in their ideas.

Many of us in this space often quote that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” We’re here for each other. We know what we have to do for our own businesses, and we know that helping your business, in many cases, will ultimately help ours–that whatever we can do to help the world heal is good for us all. It doesn’t always make sense and we can’t promote everyone’s wares and books and memberships and summits all of the time but, again, if you say you’ll promote, then do it. There might be someone’s health on the line.

“Running a summit is a LOT of work, but it’s a brilliant medium to tackle a multifaceted complex issue, and I found it was an amazing format to interview some of my lifelong heroes and connect with them directly for the first time. Although tiring, it can be a life-changing experience both personally and importantly, for the attendees. You realize you can have a major impact on an issue and make a difference.” ~Niki Gratrix, BA, DipION, BANT, CNHC

So, we just ask of all of you, attendees and speakers and affiliates alike, be respectful of those who have given a dear portion of their lives trying to start a movement to help people heal.

We’re all in this together.

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