Whether it’s a board meeting, a seminar, or a conference, the events your organization hosts or attends can provide great fodder for newsletter articles — if you highlight the most important points and forget about the rest.When you start writing an event summary, you may be tempted to regurgitate the agenda with a few extra details sprinkled in. We’ve all read these kinds of articles and have been bored stiff by them. “John opened the workshop and welcomed the speakers. Fred talked about ABC. We broke for lunch. After lunch, Jane talked about XYZ. It was a successful workshop.” There’s no value for your newsletter readers here.
Instead, pick just a few highlights from the event. Think of the event as a whole and pick the best resources or information from the day. What three things did you learn? What three points surprised you? What would someone who attended the event go back and tell her co-workers around the water cooler? What points would she highlight to the boss, to emphasize that the registration fee was money well spent? If you feel strongly that you need to mention every speaker, pick the single most important or memorable point from each presentation and focus only on that point.
Leave all the boring, mundane and pro forma details out of your article. Welcoming addresses are typically devoid of real substance and don’t need to be mentioned (unless they were given by a very big name). We also don’t need to know what was served for lunch. It’s not unusual for at least one speaker to bomb, and if you were bored in person, imagine how bored your newsletter readers will be if you try to summarize that person’s entire presentation.
Also think about different article formats that you could use to summarize the event, rather than straight reporting. Try “Top Ten Insights from the Workshop” or “How To (Insert Task): Lessons Learned at the Workshop.”
You can wrap up the article by mentioning speakers you didn’t highlight and suggesting ways that newsletter readers can get more information on the topic. For example, if you hosted the event, ask speakers to provide electronic copies of their presentations or handouts for your website. You can also ask readers to mark their calendars for the next event.