⛰ Summit

Convene a large audience for an important topic.

Target Size: 100–500 people | Attributes: Large, Structured, Multi-Faceted | Shorthand: “I want to get a ton of people together.”

  • Show, don’t tell. Offering excellent directional signage can help your attendees understand what to expect. The best large-scale events make use of printed matter and digital media to help participants understand where they need to be and when big events will take place—all without an announcement from the main stage.

  • Set the right tone. Use any plenary sessions to set participants’ expectations for your event. Make the event’s context clear and describe the event’s objectives and next steps. Outline the rules of engagement, like commitments to equity and inclusion, and let people know where they can find assistance during the event.

  • Assemble your team. Large-scale events work best when you have a team of trained facilitators who make the whole operation hum. Recruit a team of helpers, train them in advance, and plan to compensate them fairly for their time and any travel or expenses.

  • Don’t overschedule. Offering too many sessions at once will annoy your participants (who’ll have too many sessions to choose from) and your presenters (who may end up with very few session attendees). Build in time for hallway conversations: participants will stop and chat anyway, so you might as well build in time for informal connections.

Process Checklist
  • Choose a relevant topic
  • Develop interesting programming
  • Recruit participants
  • Train staff, facilitators, and volunteers
  • Host the summit
  • Document the event
  • Follow up afterward

Related Experiences: Planning, Recruitment, Knowledge-Sharing, Social, Feedback

Related Techniques: Bullseye, Four Corners, Ignite Talks, Trading Cards, World Cafe

Example & Artifacts

Sprout designed and led a two-day summit in Silicon Valley about digital badges and micro-credentials for a group of 300 funders, technologists, educators, and other innovators. The Summit to Reconnect Learning featured plenary sessions, panel discussions with prominent speakers, and working sessions.