Photo: Matthew Papa
Business event planners are always being asked to do more with less, which means you may have already created an account to test OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Artificial intelligence promises to reinvent the workplace, but it can be frustrating to use when there’s no user manual and no assistance for getting past the initial blank prompt on the load screen. Luckily, the team at New York City Tourism + Conventions has been using the technology in a variety of ways since its release last year, and we’re here to assist with using ChatGPT for event planners.
It’s helpful to understand that ChatGPT is a user-friendly interface for interacting with artificial intelligence, specifically a large language model (LLM). These models create new content based on learned patterns from training data, which has been derived from the vast sources on the internet. ChatGPT generates text by predicting the best next word for a sentence, emulating billions of conversations—like an incredibly smart auto-complete.
We’ve put together the following step-by-step roadmap to illustrate how using an iterative approach with ChatGPT—writing prompts that build upon one another—can help you create engaging event agendas while keeping you, the human, firmly in the driver’s seat. Read on for the many ways to implement this technology into your work.
ChatGPT is most useful when you build information into a prompt throughout a conversation. Rather than asking it to “create an agenda for a three-day conference in NYC,” pretend that the blank prompt is an eager intern or a brilliant toddler. It has no context for your questions other than what you provide it. Start at the beginning. Do you have profiles for your target audience for this event?
Don’t: give ChatGPT a context-free prompt like, “Write an agenda for the upcoming Annual Meeting for New York City Tourism + Conventions.”
Do: provide the interface with background knowledge to help qualify your request. For instance, “New York City Tourism + Conventions is hosting an Annual Meeting for their membership, which comprises 1,800 businesses throughout the five boroughs that benefit from NYC’s tourism economy. Nearly half of these businesses are local restaurants (many of which participate in NYC Restaurant Week®) and the others include Broadway shows, attractions, hotels, walking tours, cultural institutions, retailers and B2B companies that provide services to conventions and meetings.”
The more information you can share about your audience, the better. That includes demographics (age, income), psychographics (values, hobbies), details about their industry and role at work, and any details from previous post-conference surveys about attendees’ business goals for RSVPing to your event.
Paste any information you have about your audience into a prompt with a note to let ChatGPT know that you will be asking questions about this data shortly.
ChatGPT can build upon the work you’ve already done. Providing samples of the output you’re looking for will give it a guide to follow.
Paste previous agendas, including descriptions of the sessions for all of your educational content, into the prompt. (If you can, go back about five years.) If you conduct post-event surveys, include ratings and feedback for each session.
Do: introduce ChatGPT to the content you’re providing it with simple statements like, “I’m now sharing the meeting agenda, with descriptions of each session and attendee feedback, for our last association event, which was held in 2022 in NYC. Please retain in your memory for context.”
For bonus points, paste in the agendas for events that compete with yours, and note if any of the business events or sessions were particularly popular or successful. This “gap analysis” can help ChatGPT identify any missed opportunities or emerging trends that you could take advantage of with your agenda.
Do you have a theme identified for your event? Share it in as much detail as possible in a prompt. But if you haven’t settled on a theme yet, by this point you should have the prompt primed with enough information to ask for ideas.
Don’t: open a new chat thread.
Do: build on the same chat thread that you’ve loaded with context. Give ChatGPT instructions like, “Based on the information I’ve provided, please suggest 10 sample themes for my upcoming conference that build upon previous years without duplicating those events. Prioritize uncommon ideas. Incorporate my host location of New York City into these themes.”
Once you have identified your theme, ask ChatGPT to break it down into specific session topics to ensure a thorough exploration of the main theme.
Don’t: enter vague statements like, “Write the titles for the sessions I should host at my conference.”
Do: be specific about your needs. For example, “Based on the information I’ve shared, and my conference theme of The Future of NYC Tourism, suggest six ideas for topics for sessions at our upcoming Annual Meeting.”
As a bonus, ask for a sequence for these topics at your event so there is a logical order and flow for the sessions.
This is where you can really have fun! Start with your first topic and ask for ideas for 10 sessions to address that topic. Request a variety of formats, including keynotes, fireside chats and panels—or ask ChatGPT to push the envelope by suggesting less-common formats for a business event. Have you ever thought of creating a role-playing game for a breakout session? ChatGPT can design an adventure based on your goals for the session, write the narrative and prepare character sheets for participants.
Once you settle on a session that you like, play around with its format. Ask ChatGPT to rework the session from a panel to an interactive game. Ask how much time you should allot based on the topic’s depth and the familiarity of your audience with that topic.
Don’t: give up if you don’t like the first ideas you receive.
Do: keep iterating! Ask for more ideas. Ask for them to be more unusual, or more obvious, or more advanced. Or even New York-ier!
Pro tip: You can edit your initial prompt if the response was truly unhelpful; some users say this is more effective than just telling ChatGPT what it got wrong, because it helps the “context window” to retain only the correct context for your conversation.
Again, go one session at a time and ask for 10 ideas for a compelling title for each. When you see a session title you really like, let ChatGPT know! Within the context of your conversation, this will reinforce what a good output looks like. Do you need to change a few words, or combine parts from three different suggestions to get a title you’re happy with? That’s all part of the iterative process.
As you can see, using ChatGPT correctly isn’t necessarily a shortcut for creating the agenda for a business event, and every step requires input and feedback from a human. But once you become comfortable ideating with this platform, you will find that proper use of an LLM will help create business event sessions that are engaging and put your audience at the center of the event. Now that you understand how to use ChatGPT for event planning, it’s time to take your event to the next level.
Below, see a selection of prompts you can use to assist you with ChatGPT.
“Retain in your memory the following demographic and psychographic information about the attendees for my upcoming event.”
“Retain in your memory the descriptions, attendee ratings and feedback for the sessions that have been conducted at this conference over the past five years.”
“Retain in your memory the descriptions of the sessions that have been held by competing conferences over the past two years.”
“Conduct a gap analysis on the content that has been presented at these conferences. What opportunities have we overlooked? What emerging trends could we take advantage of?”
“Based on the information I’ve provided, please suggest 10 sample themes for my upcoming conference that build upon previous years without duplicating those events. Prioritize uncommon ideas. Incorporate my host location of New York City into these themes.”
“Based on the information I’ve shared, and my conference theme, suggest six ideas for topics for sessions at our upcoming business event.”
“Can you share a sequence for these topics so there is a logical order and flow for the sessions?”
“Provide ideas for 10 sessions to address the first topic for this conference. Use a variety of formats, including keynotes, fireside chats and panels, along with a minimum of two less-common formats.”
“Rework the third idea from a panel to an interactive game.”
“Suggest 10 ideas for a compelling title for my first session.”