Secrets to an Innovative Event
Every year meeting planners try to create one of a kind events and every year it gets more and more difficult.
Here are some ways to be innovative…
Sell people on the dream, not the theme Why should someone travel long and far to attend a meeting when their are so many other things competing for their time? Most people don’t know what to expect from an event to begin with. They attend for networking, learning and continuing education, or because they have to.
To create an innovative event, think outside of the box, give people something they hadn’t even thought of. Henry Ford pointed out that his customers would probably have asked for a faster horse rather than a cost effective car! Offer something that hasn’t been created yet. That’s innovation.
Don’t do the expected Most conventions have conference speakers, an agenda, they happen in meeting rooms. What if you didn’t do any of this? What if people walked into the room and there were no chairs. It has been proven that people learn better by standing or moving around. Could you do a seminar where people stand or move around and interact?
At one conference I was the motivational keynote opening speaker, I walked into the room and there were no chairs. When people entered, they were told to take a chair from the stack at the side of the room and sit anywhere. This made me nervous, as I was about to give a motivational speech to a very disorganized looking room. People sat in pods, with 4 or 5 chairs together in different parts of the room. Some people sat on their own in the corner. It was one of the most lively conference speaking engagements and it was very memorable. Why? Because just by changing the seating pattern, we interrupted everyone’s other patterns – jarring them out of the conventional and giving them permission to be innovative!
The most innovative things these days involves technology. It has literally shaped who we are as a society. We rely heavily on our gadgets and our values and preferences (real time information, instant feedback, etc) have been altered by it. People now demand real time feedback and information – how can we give them this in a meeting space? They do have gadgets that allow people to vote in meetings and it quickly calculates results. Think about the patterns you expect at a large event – identify them, then change them around.
A few other ideas:
Have a ladies (or men) only event. The purpose is to segregate the group to celebrate and build synergy. Ladies only event – Make it fun and funny and a bit zany. Hang pantyhose from the light fixtures. Buy a bunch of bras of all sizes and people have to do a treasure hunt and barter and negotiate with each other to get one of their size. Charge a fee or go by donation and give the money to a breast cancer cause. Men could have a cigar and scotch night. Except that girls get bras and men and alcohol, hmm is that fair?
Have an ethnic food night. To honour the incredibly diversity in a crowd, have a night with different ethnic foods for people to try. Hire a professional to do a seminar and teach the group a cultural dance.
Have a theme. Hire a dynamic motivational speaker that can tie in the theme. Humor, motivation and inspiration needs to be re invigorated for every success bound industry, so it is critical to have a motivational inspiring message for people to take away.
Give delegates a way to unwind and re-juvenate. At a convention, people want to balance learning with networking and downtime. If you schedule is packed tight with sessions, delegates may come away from the meeting exhausted. Fun things you could do is have a masseuse or aromatherapy. Design relax rooms that are dim( mood lighting is great), quiet and have reclining chairs.
Walk around the convention and hand out coupons redeemable for 5 minutes of bliss. It could include Downtime in the relax room, a 5 minute foot or neck massage, a cup of relaxing tea. Some conventions offer meditation or yoga.
Have conference speakers be available at the trade show to answer questions and have discussion.
In general – interrupt people’s usual patterns and give them what they want but don’t expect.