Attending a client event? Here’s how to write a kick-ass summary

Capturing the spirit of a big event can be daunting. Here are some tips to take the pressure off, and help you successfully summarise your next expo, conference, or breakfast meeting.

Attending a client event? Here’s how to write a kick-ass summary

Events are a great way for businesses to directly connect with both new and existing customers. The problem is, they can only be experienced by so many people.

To spread the word and help others attend the event vicariously, a range of content is often made post-event. Alongside videos and photo galleries, a big event report, summary or paper may be commissioned to summarise the key messages of the day.

If you’ve been asked to attend an event and write up such a report, it can be a daunting prospect. Here are seven tips to take the pressure off and help you really capture the spirit of an event in writing.

1: Eat something

A two-part tip to start. The first thing you should always do before an event is to eat something. In the hubbub of getting across London, Berlin, Paris, Vegas etc. during rush hour, it’s easy to skip breakfast. Don’t. A hungry writer tends to forget things.

If you’re at an event and food is on offer, you also shouldn’t hesitate to get stuck in for a couple of good reasons:

  • Other attendees are more likely to network over some good grub
  • Food at events is often really amazing

2: Be social, but don’t forget why you’re there

Events are a great opportunity to meet new people and discuss the goings-on in their industry. That kind of info, direct from the source, is gold dust for any writer—and could come in handy for later projects you take on. Even if you’re there to be a fly on the wall, there’s nothing to say you shouldn’t be a talkative fly and get as much out of the event and its attendees as you can.

That said, don’t go too far with your own personal networking. You’ve got a job to do, so make sure you put that first.

3: Work out your angle

Just like any other writing job, an event write-up benefits from a solid brief.

Make sure you talk to your client before attending the event to work out what the angle is. Is it a straight write up of the event? Is there a particular new product or service that they want to come shining through? Should one speaker get more weight in the copy than the others? Are there any hot trends you need to reference, or use to frame the speakers’ insights?

These are all important questions, and it pays to answer them before you start attending the event and taking notes. Speaking of taking notes…

4: Bring a recorder…

15-Baroque-alto-recorder-after-Debey-by-Fred-Morgan-photo-by-Oscar-Romero
OK, maybe not that kind of recorder.

A handheld recording device is your best friend for events, calls, and anything else that requires you to take notes quickly.

Ideally, try and pick one up that has built in condenser microphones. This isn’t the place to get into the complexity of microphone choice, but in general condensers are a bit more sensitive. So, they’re more likely to pick up what a speaker is saying – even in a crowded conference room.

The Radix office (shameless promotion alert) uses this Tascam portable for taking notes, and it works pretty well. There are plenty of other recorders on the market that will also do the job, and most can be had for less than £100.

5: But be prepared to take notes as well

You want a recorder to pick up the full event, but you shouldn’t rely on this entirely.

For starters, having several hours of audio as your only writing reference is daunting, to say the least. If you also have a word doc with the key points highlighted, that can help make things feel a bit more manageable.

Also, recordings can fail, files can become corrupted, and white noise can prevent you from hearing the speakers during playback. Things can and will go wrong, and it pays to have a backup set of notes.

6: Capture the spirit of the event

I appreciate that sounds a bit “new-age”, but it’s important to think beyond the core messages of the event, and try to capture the feeling in the room.

Every event will have a different theme, décor, or other element to it that goes beyond the core sessions and speakers on the lineup. Even without these things, most events will have an overall theme they try to build the sessions around. Riffing off this can be a great way to start your write up.

7: Don’t wait too long to start writing

I know, it’s Friday evening and you’re on the train back from London. It’s late, and smells weird in your coach, and the last thing you want to do is start writing. But you should.

Even with notes and recordings from the event, a lot of the best copy you write will come from the small details you remember. Unfortunately, your memory is going to quickly fade from the moment you leave the event. So, it’s best to start writing as early as you can.

Bonus tip: don’t panic

Stuff goes wrong. That’s a fact of life – and a fact of any event you’re attending. You might miss the connecting train you need, have an alarm malfunction and show up late, or zone out right when a critical speaker says their most important sentence. Or all three, if you’re really lucky.

The important thing is not to panic. Just put any blunders like this in the back of your mind, and try and make the best of the rest of your day.

Follow these tips, and nail that write up

No matter how experienced you are at this whole copywriting thing, events can be a daunting prospect.

But if you can keep your cool and follow these tips, you’ll be in the best place to produce a great write up – one that pleases your client, and helps non-attendees see just how much they’ve missed out.

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Header image from photo by John-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash.

Recorder image: by Óscar Romero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


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