How to Keep Your Corporate Events Relevant, Energetic, and Fun
Attendees of corporate events frequently can’t wait for the day to arrive. In many ways, a corporate event is like getting paid to go to a party. There’s engaging conversation, good food and drinks, and often an exciting twist to the typical approach to work. All in all, corporate events can be energetic, invigorating, and enjoyable.
All the same, attendees of corporate events frequently dread the fact that they have to attend a corporate event. There’s a sense of monotony as the same speeches, activities, and overall event is rolled out year after year. There are boring networking sessions, bland food, and an uninteresting setting. All in all, corporate events can be dull, uninspiring affairs.
Nobody wants their event to be perceived as the second group. Yet, frequently planners get stuck in a rut. The key is to ensure that your corporate affairs remain helpful and engaging. Here’s a look at three of the most popular corporate events and tips to keep them vital and energetic.
These are the big, client-facing events that can put your company on the map. By hosting a conference, you are declaring that your company has something to offer beyond just your products and services. It’s a declaration that you are a thought leader in your industry and have the skills and knowledge to host a several-day event to showcase your leadership status.
There is a lot at stake when hosting a conference. You want to make sure that attendees feel like they are getting the value from the money they invested when they registered.
You start to ensure their return on their investment with the content you provide. Make sure your educational sessions offer insight and significance that is difficult to obtain elsewhere. Also, it is imperative to showcase speakers who can help your attendees work through and discover new solutions to common industry problems. Finding the right speakers can be a bit tricky, but you can start by sorting through your LinkedIn contacts, visiting the National Speakers Association website, and putting out a call for proposals. In addition, give some thought to utilizing speakers who are not in or adjacent to your industry but would still provide value to your attendees. Often an outside-of-the-box speaker turns out to be the highlight of a conference.
Another suggestion is to make a big show of the opening presentation to launch the event with a bang. Music with a synchronized light show, maybe even some fireworks, can announce your grand intentions for the event to come. Or, if you wish to be a little subtler, use the opening presentation to gather attendees for an event beginning icebreaker. Just throw out a simple question, such as “Are you a morning person or a night person?” and have small groups discuss yes or no and why. This can be a fun, relaxed way to put people at ease and get them talking.
Food and beverages are an essential part of most conferences. People love food, and they love posting about food on social media. So, it stands to reason that, if you want social buzz around your conference, a surefire method is to provide food that people will want to brag about. What can you do to make the meals memorable? Are you hosting your event in an area with a regional dish or cuisine? If so, provide your guests with the ability to sample the local delights. Also, while it is impossible to please every guest, if you provide a few menu options your chances of making the overwhelming majority happy increases greatly. This includes providing for people with special needs, like offering vegan options and being considerate of food allergies. To really build the buzz, you can make the food fun. From “dragon breath” ice cream (it’s flash frozen with liquid nitrogen, so you breathe out vapor as you eat it) to donut walls, providing some creative choices will add excitement and whimsey to the everyday act of eating a meal. Also, liven up cocktail hour with the inclusion of several mixology stations where attendees stop by and learn how to make a fun drink (before consuming it).
Finally, think about the gifts you are providing for your attendees. Yes, people love free stuff, but we’ve all been to enough conferences by now that our desk drawers are overflowing with USB sticks and water bottles. If you can make the SWAG you provide tie into your event, it will be much more meaningful and likely to be used. One option is to work with home-grown vendors and artisans to create gift bags that are filled with memories of the event and its surrounding area. Use the data you have on your attendees and work with these vendors to create functional, memorable keepsakes.
Hosting an internal meeting is just as important as a conference. Yet, often these events, because they are not open to the public, are put together with much less thought for the experience of those in attendance. As a result, internal meetings are often a slog where people frequently wish they could be back at their desks.
Remember who the event is for and focus on how you can create something that is enjoyable for the intended audience. Would your crowd prefer something that is short and to the point? Instead of an all-day affair, maybe you could keep the schedule as tight as possible and be finished by lunch.
If that’s not a possibility, why not offer plenty of opportunities for people to give them minds a rest, including some entertainment. There are plenty of comedians who have sets ready to go that are appropriate for a corporate audience. Just be sure to do your due diligence. You don’t want to deal with the fallout when the comedian you selected spent half his set eviscerating the CEO. Other suggestions include a hypnotist, ventriloquist, or magician. While this may cause thoughts of Gob Bluth to spring to mind – that may actually be a good thing. When attendees are surprised by the high quality of the entertainment, they are even more likely to remember the event fondly.
Another corporate event that is frequently anticipated as much as a visit to the dentist. Training workshops conjure up images of dull lectures and stacks of photocopied worksheets.
Of course, the worksheet is mostly a thing of the past with training “handouts” being done electronically, which is both more convenient for everyone involved and a greener option.
Other ideas to liven up training sessions include previous recommendations like keeping them short, having frequent “brain breaks,” and providing good food and entertainment. You could also work your schedule so the morning is reserved for training activities while the afternoon contains a fun event. Maybe, if you’re feeling really creative, you’ll find a way to tie the morning’s training into the afternoon fun.
It can also be effective to add gamification elements to your training sessions. Perhaps at the end of each education module, attendees get up and use their devices for an augmented reality brain teaser.
Corporate events have a vital role to fill in today’s business landscape, but to be effective, it’s imperative to stretch beyond stogy, old-school thinking and find a way to make the event about the attendees. For more ideas that can make your corporate events the envy of everyone who cannot attend, give Event Architecture a call at 214-529-0282.