Don't Blame the Pork Pies: 5 Essentials to Creating a Brilliant Corporate Event
We’ve all been to events where we’ve come out and thought ‘what was that all about’?
We’ve probably even been to a few where we can’t even remember why we were there or what was said. And by the same token, occasionally, rarely, we come out with a head full of ideas; feeling like we can fly; full of optimism, energy, positivity and chomping to get cracking.
So what’s happened differently at each event? How do you plan a brilliant corporate event?
1 Content is King
The content of your conference is your product. Get this right and you are half way there. What do we mean by content? At Assured Events we break it down into three parts:
Purpose: is there a genuine purpose for your event? Is there a perceived need? Are people attending because there is a tangible benefit to attend or because of the 3-line whip? Is the event in the calendar because it’s always in the calendar at that time of year or will it positively contribute to the lives or performance of attendees? What are the objectives of the event? This is particularly important to consider if you are planning a ‘pay to attend’ corporate event.
Theme: What message is being communicated by your event? Is it current? The ‘internet of everything’ is a fairly current topic (at the time of going to print!) but is that relevant to your audience? Make sure that your event has a theme which addresses your specific message - this is your hook. The specific areas of interest within the theme should then be sourced and will hang off this hook.
Presenters: once the areas of interest have been identified, who is best placed to deliver them? Senior corporate figures don’t always make the best presenters and facilitators. You might want to consider paying for speakers, but research them well via YouTube and other social media. Assess their experience. In our experience of organising corporate events, ‘out of sector’ presenters always go down well. Hearing from someone who has faced a familiar challenge but in a different industry can generate valuable shared learnings. If you are going to include case studies don’t just go for the out-and-out success stories. Try and include those with a few warts. Learning what didn’t work is often as useful as what did.
Finally – give direction to your presenters on the kind of delivery you want. Don’t let the tail wag the dog. As a delegate, would you rather hear a message using images, or graphs with 6-point text?
Thought so. If a speaker puts the room in a collective coma, that’s your fault, not the speaker’s.
All in all, the content alone will determine whether your target audience will consider the event as value for money... even if it’s a free to attend or compulsory corporate event. People will ask themselves ‘is it worth my time’? You know what it’s like. If you are out of the office, something isn’t getting done – so is your event worth sacrificing the time? Even if it’s compulsory – if your event is not considered to be VfM in terms of time, your audience will be disengaged.
2 Air Pockets
Build breathing space into your itinerary. You may have a lot to cram in but people need time to digest what they have heard and to share it with others. Delegates highly value the chance to chat with colleagues and discuss the information they have heard, or even just to hear about other people’s experiences.
We used to call this 'chatting’ but these days it is known as networking. Presumably because chatting is that fruitless thing that you used to do at the back of a maths class. Networking is more businessy...apparently. Whatever it is – people like doing it so whatever you call it - make sure there is plenty of it in there.
3 What’s On The Menu?
Recent research confirms what we have always known, that food and catering in general can make or break an event. Make sure there is plenty of it but also be sure to minimise food wastage. Have a plan to where possible: pass on unused food and drink. Keep it rolling and keep an eye on uptake. Make sure that you know any dietary requirements – and address them fully.
The quality and type of the food is so important to people attending a corporate event. Food provenance should be explained – that on its own adds value, especially if attendees can see that the food miles have been kept low. In recent years those stalwarts of conference buffets, sandwiches and pork pies have had something of a bad rep. Leave them alone. There’s nothing wrong with either but the bread or pastry types, fillings, provenance of ingredients can all make a huge difference. Don't blame the pies!
Great food can lift a mediocre corporate event but a great event will be seriously dragged down by mediocre food.
4 The Roof Over Your Head
Ok it has to be accessible (including parking nearby) and of an appropriate size but is it on message? Your options will inevitably narrow the higher your numbers and shorter your lead time, but it must work with your core message. Trying to deliver an inspirational and motivational message in a room with a 2.8m suspended ceiling with bland images screwed to the walls seems at cross purposes to us. But it happens. Regularly.
Is the venue type appropriate to your audience? Older audiences may feel uncomfortable in nightclub venues; Younger audiences are not uplifted by lecture theatres; core corporates spend their life under those suspended ceilings, so why put them under another one having taken them out of the office. The venue alone can add impact to your event. Research you chosen locale fully, you’ll be amazed what you can find and dress.
The final word on venues is – make sure the staff are well briefed and prepared to be flexible on timings during the day. Presenters finishing early is as much of a challenge as presenters finishing late. Having 400 delegates piling out of a room to no tea, coffee or the all important locally sourced choc chip cookie does not make for a happy atmosphere. And they will let you know.
Every. Single. Time.
And rightly so.
5. The Take-aways
No – we’re not back to food but it is the bread and butter of why you are even running the event.
Delegates will not remember or retain everything they hear at your event.
What? You have spent over 6 months planning your event and they won’t remember every second?!
You need to ensure that through a balance of the above they do retain some elements of what they have heard. Perhaps presenters could make reference to this during their delivery...”if there is one thing that you should take away from this session it’s this...”
Or maybe at the end of each session, presenters could ask delegates to take a few notes on 2-3 elements of what they have heard that stick in their mind. By the end of the day there should be quite an array of captured information, on message and of personal value.
If you like our thinking and the way that we plan a corporate event at Assured Events, you can download our FREE 9 step, 24-page guide to organising an event from our home page.
But whatever you do - don't blame a poor event on the pork pies.