Conferences

5 Secrets to Creating a Successful Mastermind Event

If you’re an entrepreneur or speaker, you are probably hearing the word “mastermind” everywhere these days. This buzzy word is often centered on groups and events.

A mastermind group must be mutually beneficial to all members and offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting.

Mastermind events or conferences, sometimes called inner circles, are an in-person meeting in the spirit of a mastermind group. These events can be a meeting of a pre-established group, but they can also bring together like-minded individuals who have never met before. These workshops are laser-focused when it comes to subject matter and attendees. (You wouldn’t have a mid-level sales rep and a CEO at the same mastermind.)

A mastermind conference is different than other conferences because it is intended to be a roundtable discussion, where attendees learn from each other as much as they do from the facilitators and presenters. Instead of inspirational speeches and how-to presentations, masterminds have a heavy focus on big vision planning and complex problem solving. They are usually an all day or multi-day event, since the subject matter is usually too deep to get through in just a few hours.

I recently had the privilege of speaking about leadership, branding and marketing at a CEO mastermind event for companies that manage ice and snow for cities, also called snow fighters. Even though I was there to present, I felt like I was the one who got an education. Particularly, I saw the key factors that go into creating a great mastermind event.

Related: The 7 Secrets to Ensure Your User Conference Is a Smashing Success

If you are a consultant or coach and can bring in your clients for a multi-day event, here is what you can learn from my recent experience.

1. Limit the total number of attendees.

Remember the point of a mastermind is discussion and brainstorming among like-minded attendees, so it’s best to keep the number of attendees around 20. If you have 50 attendees or even 30, the more introverted attendees may get stage fright. It also becomes more challenging for each member to share and be heard -- and more importantly feel as though they’re being heard -- as the attendance number grows. By creating a roundtable feel for the event, plus one-on-one engagement with the organizer, you can charge a higher price and offer greater value.

2.Select attendees by region or sector.

This is a no-brainer, but it is so important I wanted to include it. Remember the goal is to get honest answers about problems, tactics, systems and numbers, among other things. The only way to do this is to make sure no one is guarding himself or herself from competition. For some industries this may mean inviting only one guest from each region or state. For a mastermind about online business, it would mean only inviting one online entrepreneur in each industry.

Related: How to Successfully Moderate a Panel

3. Take care of everything.

I was particularly impressed that the ticket price for the snow fighters mastermind event included transportation and almost all meals. To ensure attendees and speakers only focus on the event, take care of every last detail – from transportation to and from the airport to meals and even to suggesting convenient late-night spots nearby for them to keep the discussions going.

4. Bring in something different.

When you plan your next event, consider bringing in a few experts completely outside of your industry for a fresh take.

I was ecstatic to get to present marketing and branding tactics to a group of snow fighters, but I had never worked within the industry. I did my research and tailored my presentation, but I think my fresh perspective, outside view and vastly different marketing examples helped inspire new ideas within the group.

5. Get out of the way.

The person that ran the event, John Allin, is an expert in his industry, having managed snow for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. So it made sense that he put on this mastermind, lead the discussion and answered questions. But I appreciated that for the most part, he asked the questions more than he answered them. I could tell his goal was to get the attendees talking and sharing. Business owners love to talk about their business, industry and in many cases, themselves. There was an agenda to follow each day, but he only used it as a rough guide. He let the conversation dictate the content for the day organically. If questions were posed, he’d let one of the attendees in the room answer.   

If you’re an industry leader with clients spread out across multiple regions, consider creating a mastermind event. Not only can you charge premium prices for such an event but if you use the above strategies, you can inspire and equip attendees in a way that will have them coming back year after year.

Related: Don't Talk to Your Audience, Talk With Them