12 Tips for an Amazing Event: Don’t Just Sit There, DO Something
by Rose Bloomfield — September 24, 2019
What is it about designing events that I love so much? Suddenly I think of cookie dough, the small crunchy granules of sugar blended with butter, the heavenly flavour of vanilla extract and the sublime melt of dark chocolate chips. Even before I bake the cookies, the main event in this case, the ingredients themselves have satisfied.
Designing events are similar because I love what goes into making them delicious–I mean, shine. To create an event that is truly memorable, impactful and enjoyable you need a blend of four key ingredients: 1. Purpose 2. Teamwork 3. Creativity 4. Action
Surely great music, a uniting theme, an excellent MC, or an inspirational speaker can make a difference, but with these four basic ingredients we believe you can make magic out of any topic whether it be a medical conference or TEDx event.
As the title states, an amazing event is an active one. The event’s purpose is what points to the type of meaningful action you might incorporate. Here are 12 specific ideas for how you can incorporate our 3 main messages in this corresponding video podcast episode on Amazing Events.
Surely great music, a uniting theme, an excellent MC, or an inspirational speaker can make a difference, but with just these four ingredients we believe you can make magic out of any topic whether it be a medical conference or TEDx event.
As the title states, an amazing event is an active one. The event’s purpose is what points to the type of meaningful action you might incorporate. Here are a 12 specific ideas for how you can incorporate the 3 overarching takeaways in our corresponding video podcast episode on Amazing Events.
Tip 1: Only use presentations when necessary
Of course there are times when a classic keynote is just the ticket to open or close a conference. Just bear in mind that presentations are not the best way for your team to learn information. Here are a few ways you can inspire and engage your audience both with and beyond presentations:
1 - Be Lean: when you speak be sure to reset audience attention every 10 minutes, according to mind expert John Medina, author of Brain Rules. You can do this in many ways such as by asking a question or sharing a relevant emotionally compelling anecdote. The less we tell people, the more they remember. So keep your presentation compelling and clear with 1-3 key messages tops.
2 - Panels: gather a few key opinion leaders whether internal or external, aim for diversity, and add a skilled moderator to create a dynamic and energized discussion.
3 - Q&A: give your audience a chance to ask their burning questions and aim to be honest, clear and direct in your responses. This can be especially helpful around the rollout of a new program or initiative, or to rebuild trust around a project or leader.
4 - Group activities: give your team a chance to work in smaller groups to discuss a key question or topic with enough instruction that they are clear how to spend their time and what their objective is and enough freedom to really explore and come to new insight. Then have a spokesperson share a quick update with the larger group.
Tip 2: Do Something!
This doesn’t mean people should never sit down during an event or be artifically sporty, nor should you resort to: ‘let’s just throw in an escape game and call it a day’. What we are suggesting is to tap the deeper potential of your team by calling in their whole selves during your event. We are human beings, not laptops. We are meant to move and our brains impressively better when we do. Research shows that activity, creativity and collaboration improve learning and memory retention. Here are few ideas to get the ball rolling on how to pack some action in your event:
5 - Workshops: when participants get their hands dirty trying to solve a problem related to the purpose of your event, even briefly, they wake up and new neurons fire. Participants become engaged and invested in finding a way forward and more open to solutions.
6 - Pitch it: instead of long-winded presentations, try a timed 5-10minute pitch and even more fun if you have a few which can playfully compete on fun criteria like most imaginative.
7 - Stand-up brainstorms: before hearing a presentation why not ask your team to break out into small groups around a paper board, set a timer and brainstorm on a question or issue related to the event topic. After that they’ll be many times more receptive to hearing what you wanted to share with them because they had the opportunity to reflect first about the need.
8 - Play: have participants improvise a skit, record a video, or write a song in alignment with the purpose of the event. Thinking in new ways and sharing it unleashes new synergy and trust in teams.
Tip 3: Make it memorable with the unexpected
We have seen traditional companies host IT conferences and Pharmaceutical teams present new research in refreshing ways. This makes all the difference. If you know everyone loves the champagne hour then keep that in and iterate on the type of speaker or the flow of the event. Here are a few ways you might spice things up…
9 - Theme: Giving your event a theme is a great way to unite many messages and new information under a meaningful umbrella. We worked on an event called SHIFT, which as you may have guessed was all about “shifting” culture to be more efficient, connected, customer focused and fun. They used activities like test-driving a Tesla and having a formula 1 race simulator available during the breaks. (You can read about the event here.)
10 - Team building: we also worked on a memorable event that included a team-building treasure hunt in small groups all around Athens, where the conference was held. Meaningful connections occur in moments least expected, like while taking shelter from a downpour in a quaint café over hot Greek coffee.
11 - Simple delights: have you ever left a welcome note or a little gift related to the event on your guests hotel bed for them to discover upon arrival? Or invited teams to wear their favorite t-shirt? Or all orange? How about hosting a single-song dance party in the middle of a conference? Possible outcome: a little sweat, a burst of laughter and lots of new energy.
12 - Don’t skip the breaks: we suggest the Disney rule which respects that fact that nature calls us all usually around 1 hour 20 minutes especially after all the coffee we tend to drink to stay alert during long stretches of focus. Then take a longer break at least every 3 hours for a meal or nourishing refreshments. Tip: keep meals and snacks healthy to keep energy and attention high.
In sum, events can be wonderful, meaningful and valuable, especially when they’re active. A well planned gathering can pump new energy, motivation and commitment into an organisation. This energy is what we need to turn around a dwindling initiative, improve employee retention and inspire internal innovation. This happens when teams are offered an event developed with purpose and their experience in mind.
So remember the four key ingredients to make your next event amazing: purpose, teamwork, creativity and action. We hope this has inspired you even a little with how to turn up the volume on engagement and impact for your next event.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help boost activate these inherent elements and make something unforgettable feel free to reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.