Let’s be perfectly honest, if you’ve never been to a conference that’s so crushingly boring you’ve pondered the meaning of life then you’ve either never been to one or are part of an impossibly small minority.
Often it’s a case of simple mistakes that planners make; the room is too small, there’s not enough breaks, the content isn’t engaging, the catering is poor, we could go on.
With that in mind we’re here to help you out with some ideas on best practice and the best ideas to shake things up a little bit. So let’s start with the fundamentals.
Venue, as you might expect, is absolutely key. You need to consider who it is you’re inviting and where they’re coming from. If you’re keeping things local then fantastic, perhaps you can go a little bit off the beaten track with people not having to travel too far. If you’re with the majority, however, intending to invite people from all over then central location is likely to be key. Whether travelling by road or train you’ll need somewhere that’s easy to find and is close to amenities and accommodation. This is the reason why city centre locations are so popular, and why events out on a trading estate miles from anywhere rank amongst life’s most tedious experiences.
Aims and targets. It’s such a simple point but one that so many miss, and one of the worst mistakes to make. What’s the point of your event? Is it to persuade people to sign up to your services? Are you trying to build your network? Are you trying to sell something? We ask because you need to decide and be clear about it. Often organisers become so swept up in the minutiae of organising and planning that they lose focus and that’s when schedules become ambling and pointless, when speakers become irrelevant and tedious, and when things go pear shaped.
It’s an idea that many would dismiss outright – corporate events can be fun. When they’re planned right and flow naturally with engaging content and interesting focus points then they can really deliver.
Think of it this way; you can either get people attending voluntarily or through necessity. If you’re creating an inspiring and original event then you’ll achieve the latter.
Speakers – If you’re not looking to pay for event speakers and want people within your company to step up to the mark then you really need to pick the right people and offer the right kind of support. Often it’s people you may not have thought of before. Can they hold a group of people’s attention? Can they make people laugh? Can they write well? There’s a good chance that they’d be able to hold a room. Look to audition people within the company for the chance to present something at your event, it’s great for staff development and allows you to find some really engaging and inspiring speakers.
Games and tasks – People will become engaged in your event if there’s plenty to do and plenty to stimulate them. A great presentation is just one part. If you’re looking to hold your event for more than a few hours then even the most engaging presentation in history will eventually start to bore people. Tasks and games can be a good way to break things up and can illustrate your point. Things like the marshmallow challenge and other team building exercises can be really engaging in these scenarios.
So let’s break it down into a checklist then, and ensure you’ve got what you need.
- A great venue. Location is key, whilst room size, good staff and good reviews are all nice to have add-ons.
- A clear aim and focus. Know what you want to get from your event. Set targets and go from there, don’t plan content and other things first and add aims later.
- Good speakers. Look to give people an opportunity and don’t rule anybody out, there’s probably some great talent in your own company.
- A solid and easy to understand itinerary. Make sure you’ve got a defined, simple itinerary for the day with all of your speakers and events planned out with breaks in between.
- Engaging games and tasks. What your event is about will define what tasks and games you can use, but do your research -there’s literally hundreds of ideas online to help you out.