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5 Benefits and 7 Tips for Hosting a Virtual Summit: Advice from Summit Expert Anya Perry

by: Marisa Moon
Published: March 9, 2021
Updated: June 23, 2022

Are you wondering what you can do in your health coaching business to accelerate your business, claim your niche and make strategic collaborations? Then hosting a wellness summit might be for you. I’ve experienced firsthand the hard work, passion, and organization needed to pull off these considerable events, and that’s why I sat down with five-time virtual summit host, Anya Perry, for some expert advice.

Anya Perry is a 9-year veteran coach and 5-year Primal Health Coach. Formerly a professional musician, Anya is also a USA Weightlifting and CrossFit coach, host of the “Habit Queen” podcast, and she’s a passionate entrepreneur in her primary role as a performance and mindset coach helping high-achievers balance life, wellness, and business to fulfill their ultimate potential.

This article is showered with Anya’s expert guidance to help you consider, plan, prepare for, and conquer your own virtual wellness summit once you’re up for the challenge. Here we go!

5 Benefits of Hosting a Summit

There must be some pretty compelling advantages that drove Anya to host 5 virtual summits, right? She did mention that they’re addictive. Here are 5 top benefits of hosting a summit.

1. Show Up as an Authority
2. Grow Your Collaborative Network
3. Build Your Email List and Following
4. Foster Know, Like, and Trust While Attracting Future Clients
5. See What You’re Made Of

“It’s definitely going to push your buttons and allow you to grow,” Anya says, “Hello, imposter syndrome, insecurities, and fears…it’s good, juicy growth though.”

Are there financial perks?

“We’ve done a few summits that were entirely free. We decided to sell the last two summits by combining both options—meaning, we host it for free so that more people get their eyes on it while also having an opportunity to purchase lifetime access—which worked well for us.”

Perhaps the most important financial opportunity presents itself indirectly, as Anya eluded to in benefit #4 above: “As summit registrants help to build your email list and social media following, some of those people will eventually become paying clients.”

Lessons Learned After Hosting 5 Summits

Check out the following bits of advice Anya shared after reflecting on her own challenges and experiences as a summit host:

Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Plan and Execute

Anya fell way behind on her summit plans once before, and had to rush to do everything in 3-4 weeks. “Summits take lots of planning, and trying to do it in 3-4 weeks was very difficult. Allow yourself ample time for planning…”

Go For a Top-Tier Presenter

“Invite ‘bigger’ names in the industry. I was pretty nervous to invite Mark Sisson to speak, but he said yes! You’d be surprised how leaders in our industry respond well to the invites aligned with their mission.” She’d even consider investing in top speakers if she could, because the big leaders often make a greater impact that can change viewers’ lives.

Invite Newbie Presenters for a Two-Way Learning Opportunity

“Pay it forward—invite coaches and speakers who don’t have a big audience or fan base but you admire their work. Every single coach we had taught us something new. Always be open to learning.”

Seek and Utilize Feedback

“You need to be very intuitive with each summit and see what participants like, dislike, what works and what doesn’t, for speakers and participants. Stay neutral and do not take any feedback personally. See it as a way to strategize your next summit and make it even better.”

Planning Your Own Summit

“There’s a lot of planning and organizing that goes into a summit,” Anya warned, “a lot of strategy and a ton of back-end work—but also a fair share of excitement.” Here are 7 things to consider before launching your first summit so you can be thoroughly prepared:

1. Why are you hosting it?

Be specific about your goal. Is it to grow your list, build collaborations, generate income, claim your niche, gain exposure, or share a message?

2. What will you say “No” to in order to take this on?

How will you fit this into your schedule? “Summits added about 20+ hours of work per week, for 5-6 weeks, when we first started.”

3. Niche, Niche, Niche

“Niching down on a topic or target audience is key. If you think you’ve narrowed down what your summit is about and who it’s for, narrow it down even more.”

4. Who will you co-host with?

“Get a battle buddy! Doing it alone isn’t nearly as fun (I’ve co-hosted all 5 summits).”

5. Is it free or paid?

Will it be completely free, paid, or both? Will you offer affiliate sales links to your presenters?

6. Plan out the many aspects of content delivery

How are you going to deliver summit talks? Are you going to drip content or make it available at once? Will there be replay days? Will the videos be interviews or individual presentations?

“It’s easy to waste too much time overthinking the content-delivery strategy, getting bogged down and overwhelmed. Have someone more experienced lead you through your first summit, or, make it super simple—instead of a week-long event, host a shorter weekend-only event first.

7. What’s your post-summit strategy?

How and why will you nurture your new subscribers once the summit ends? Will you create a marketing funnel to cultivate more eager followers, or will you try to upsell and convert new clients after the summit is over?

Technology Checklist for Hosting Your First Summit

  • Choose a platform to host your content. “We’ve used Membervault and WordPress. Membervault worked beautifully, even for technologically-challenged attendees…It’s important to make it simple and accessible. Nobody wants to click around 15 times to find the speakers’ talks or to enter a giveaway contest.”
  • How will you collect payments if you are selling? Research and choose a method—likely there are multiple options built into your content platform, or utilize/integrate an external option such as PayPal.
  • Choose how you’ll share videos (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
  • Choose an email marketing platform (MailChimp, Active Campaign, etc…)
  • Will you start a pop-up Facebook group? Hosts will do this to build a sense of community and hype starting on the days or weeks leading up to the summit, and to offer a place for conversations regarding the summit content.
  • Utilize Project Planning Tools like Trello or Asana. Consider how many things need coordinating such as content management, checklists, speaker proposals and follow-up communication, marketing plans, copywriting, managing deadlines, and divvying up tasks between you and your co-host(s).
  • How will you share content and promo materials with your presenters? Utilize platforms like Google Drive that allow speakers to access promo graphics and pre-written scripts (known as swipe copy) to help create buzz around the summit. “Make sure your speakers know What, How, and When to promote. Simplify the process and minimize the clutter in your communicating documents. Shorter emails to speakers and breaking things down for participants works well.”
  • Document Procedures and Create Templates. “Even with your first summit, create SOPs (standard operating procedures). If we didn’t have the templates from our very first summit and so on, everything would take twice as long.”
  • Back up your files and be prepared for things to break. “We had videos and websites crashing—it’s not pleasant, but most people understand. When hundreds of people visit your summit links at the same time, things may break. Don’t panic, and do your best to ensure pleasant guest experiences. Double-check everything the day beforehand, and on the day of.”

When It’s Time to Recuperate…

“Schedule some time off, post-summit, for ‘de-loading’…There is such a thing as post-summit blues. After all the excitement and showing up for others, you need a way to recuperate your energy, analyze how things went, and start planning another one!”

Hear more about Anya Perry’s story in her interview on Health Coach Radio, with summit co-host and PHCI grad Deanna Wilcox, where they share a more behind-the-scenes look at their experience partnering up for two wellness summits. If you’ve been looking for another passion project for your health coaching business, be prepared to be inspired.

Now tell us what you think! Leave a comment below to start or join the discussion...

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