We’ve all been to a boring corporate event, haven’t we? What’s worse, some of us have also organized a couple of boring ones too.
Company events turn out boring when they’re planned with the company or the leadership in mind. I know, that’s exactly your job, to “showcase our outstanding results”, to “celebrate the history of our company”, to “make this big announcement with a bang”. But no matter what your managers say, none of these are reasons to organize an event. The main reason you’re doing it is because you want to connect with a specific audience. When planning a corporate event, you need to start with what the audience cares about getting from you rather than what the leadership wants to achieve. Hence, your event will end up unfolding in very different ways depending on what your audience is: the company’s employees, its corporate partners, customers, brand ambassadors, the press.
Focusing on the attendees rather than the company goals is only the first - and most important - step in avoiding a boring company event. To make sure you’re planning an awesome one, here’s a checklist you can use:
✘ A middle-aged man presenting in front of a large screen
✘ A fancy reception with food that you never really eat in real life and sometimes can’t even name
✘ Photo booths and press walls - no one wants to tag themselves in those pictures anymore
✘ Having the CEO say something inspirational - maybe they’re a great person, but your brand lives through every employee and customer, and sometimes it’s more refreshing to hear a story from the warehouse guy or gal.
✘ A hotel conference room - just stay away from hotels altogether
✘ Your ego - don’t treat it as your one and only chance to showcase the full extent of your skills and creativity. Keep it simple and meaningful to the people attending.
✘ Having too many people to approve it - being a good corporate event planner means getting your management to trust you on decisions related to the event, so try to keep the decisional process between as few people as possible, otherwise only the bland ideas will pass.
✔ A damn good concept - in the research phase of your planning, involve people from different areas within the company; the diverse perspectives will help you come up with an event concept that’s fresh and true to the brand. Timo Kiuru explains in his ebook Experience Marketing how your concept should come from the combination of your brand truth and product truth with a cultural truth and a business truth (read Experience Marketing here, it’s free!)
✔ An offbeat venue - gather your audience in a place they wouldn’t expect and put your brand, product or employees in an unexpected context. Organize a conference in a warehouse, a pop-up party in your company’s parking lot, a retreat at a farm.
✔ An unconventional time - lunch break concert at the office, anyone?
✔ A memorable experience - let’s say you’re organizing a conference about creativity; you know how they say that the most creative ideas come in the shower - why not have that at your event? That is, showers people can use in the breakout sessions. They’ll definitely remember that!
✔ Interaction - if an event isn’t focused on getting people to interact, it might as well not happen at all; anything you might want your audience to read, hear or see regarding your brand or company, they can do from the comfort of their couches. They’ll only bother showing up if they know they'll be able to connect with you, and with each other.
Of course there is much more you can do to organize killer corporate events, but hopefully this will serve at least as inspiration to create your own list and rules of thumb, one that is adapted to your audience, stakeholders and brand.