Corporate events can sometimes be a dreary affair. Everyone is putting on a front, trying to be “normal” and “fit in with company culture.” It makes everything stale, superficial and boring.
Fortunately, though, you don’t have to go down this generic, cookie-cutter route. In fact, there are endless ways to make your corporate event more interesting and engaging for attendees. Here’s what you need to do:
Host With Purpose
When hosting a corporate event, make sure that it has a deeper purpose that will inspire attendees and get them fired up for the show. Yes, you want there to be a corporate purpose, such as increasing sales or training your employees so that they can do their jobs better. But you also want there to be a larger social or ethical purpose: something that attendees can believe in.
For instance, let’s say that your firm sells solar panels. Superficially, you might think that the purpose of your conference is to educate people about your products and propel your business into the future. However, the real underlying purpose should be to dislodge conventional energy generation and build a different kind of world, one that’s not wholly dependent on fossil fuels.
There are examples from all sorts of sectors. For instance, accountancy firms often have corporate events where they talk about trends and changes in policies. These discussions are great, but they’re not going to get attendees fired up and passionate about what they’re doing.
The trick here is to reframe the entire experience. It’s not so much about what’s coming down the pike, though that’s interesting. Instead, it’s more about discussions about how the business is automating tax or taking worries off people’s minds. Many accountants protect their clients from the state.
Hype It Up
Companies are often reluctant to hype up events because they’re worried about inflated expectations. Attendees arrive expecting to have their minds blown, only to find that they’re having to sit through a series of dull lectures.
The trick here is to get the hype right. If you can build it in the right way while still respecting expectations, then you’re much more likely to succeed. When guests have high hopes, it leads to greater excitement levels which, in turn, help to make your event more memorable.
Invite Guests As Friends
Don’t make the corporate event a formal occasion. Instead, see guests as your “friends” – informal partners who are coming along with you for the journey.
When you view attendees in this way, it changes the dynamic. You’re no longer the authority hosting the event, and they’re no longer consumers of it. Instead, you become more like partners, which helps to encourage participation and engagement. When your guests are your “friends,” it gives them permission to direct more of what happens and get more value from the time they spend with you.
Pick A Theme
Purpose and theme are not the same thing. A purpose is something deep and profound underlying the reason for your corporate event, such as effecting social change in the world. A theme is more superficial: things like the décor, styling and lighting.
Where possible, though, you should try to link your theme to your core mission and purpose. For instance, if you’re trying to save the world’s coastlines with solar panels, then the theme could be low-lying atolls in the Pacific.
Complementary themes help to make your event more memorable. It helps to make the experience more multi-sensory so that it sticks in your guests’ minds for longer.
If you go to any consumer-facing event, such as a festival or product launch, you’ll notice that brands make heavy use of props. Giant advertising inflatables seem to line corridors, foyers and outdoor areas.
However, even if your business event is B2B, you’ll want to do the same. The reason for this is simple: props help to engage people. Because they are so unusual, it changes the atmosphere immediately. Flags, giant inflatables and lifesize models all help to create a unique ambience, particularly when combined with the right lighting.
Allow People To Network
While packing your itinerary as full as possible seems like a great idea, it’s not necessarily the best approach. Remember, business conferences are just as much about networking as they are learning. That’s why many event organisers only schedule formal events for a small fraction of the day. The rest of the time is for people to organically mingle, discuss ideas, and form relationships. It can be extremely valuable.
The easiest way to do this is to choose a venue with a networking space already pre-built. Corporate hosts often provide bars, lounge areas and meeting rooms for more focused discussions.
If you don’t have any of these facilities, you can simply opt for longer breaks between speakers and encourage guests to talk to one another while they wait. You could also facilitate round-table discussions between people who are likely to learn from each other.
Choose A Venue That Supports Your Mission
The space you choose for your event matters a great deal because it influences how matters proceed. Outdoor events, for instance, tend to have a different vibe from those you host inside.
When choosing a venue for a corporate event, pick one that fits your theme and purpose. So, for instance, if you’re hosting a conference on renewable energy, it might be a good idea to conduct proceedings under a marquee. This way, you may be able to cut down on the overall environmental impact.
You could also host your event in a carbon-neutral facility. Again, this would help communicate your mission to guests.
Plan It Well In Advance
Lastly, while some companies can get away with hosting last-minute events, the majority can’t. It takes time to plan a corporate show and get interest from other people. Therefore, plan well in advance.
Putting on a corporate show they’ll never forget is challenging, but not impossible. Follow the above advice and you’ll put on a show like no other.