It’s not easy to continually come up with great corporate event ideas. Whether you’re a professional meeting planner or someone within a company who has been tasked with gathering ideas for your next corporate event, it can be a challenge to find programs that seem fresh and that will appeal to your attendees.
The search for new programming is somewhat of a creative process. To find new ideas, you need to be creative! So as an expert on creativity and how to use it, I thought I’d share my thoughts in order to help you successfully search for those great corporate event ideas. I’ll also include some specifics about programs that I’m fond of.
How To Find What You’re Looking For
How do you find what you’re looking for when you’re not even sure what you’re looking for? That’s where the creative process comes in handy. You need ideas, lots of ideas. Then you’ll need to evaluate those ideas to whittle them down. Then you’ll want to share the ideas with colleagues to further create a short list of great corporate events to present to your team, or to your client.
Here’s how to get started
- Ideas, ideas, ideas – Creative people know that you don’t find ideas in a vacuum. The first thing you should do is find out what other people have done for successful corporate events. Be like Picasso who said that, “good artists copy, great artists steal.” If you’re a professional event planner, put out an ask other event planners and learn what’s worked for them. If you’re not an event planner, but simply an employee who’s been asked to create content for an upcoming meeting or convention, send out a communication asking your co-workers to share favorite past events. In order to ‘steal’ the best ideas, you need to have lots to choose from. And of course, also search online for ‘corporate event ideas’. But make sure to reach out to people you’re connected with, don’t limit yourself to online search.
- Organize and share – Since you’re the person tasked with finding event ideas for your company, you also have power and discretion. That’s always fun! Take your broad list of ideas and narrow it down to ten, at the most. You’ll have certain parameters such as meeting location, venue size requirements, seasonal availability, etc. Your parameters will help you take your broad list of ideas and narrow them down. Once you have a list of a few great ideas, it’s time to share…
- Share – Create a mini-presentation. By mini I mean, don’t spend much time on it. You’re just presenting ideas, the fruit of your creative labors; the data you mined through search. List your favorite event ideas with a brief description of each. If you’re the overachiever type and just can’t help yourself, you could also assign each idea a pro-con list. Share your shortlist with your key stakeholders.
- Turn choices into executable plans – This is the final step of every creative process. Whether it’s the process you just took to find event ideas or writing a song, the chosen ideas need to take a form that can be put into action. In plain English, make sure your great corporate event idea can be delivered on time, on budget, at a location that works for you and with vendors who do great work. This final step will further reduce the size of your list and you then should end up with a few great ideas.
Corporate Event Ideas You Should Consider
A corporate event might imply a gala dinner, an educational keynote or a fun outing. So without knowing the exact type of search you may be conducting, I’m including a few ideas below.
- My company uses music and song to provide corporate events. Our team of hit-songwriter leaders have won Grammy Awards, CMA and ACM Awards and garnered Emmy and Tony award nominations. We’ve developed fun and productive programming that works for large conference sessions, interactive keynote speaking slots and also team building. Bringing songwriting into the corporate world is still a fairly new concept. So this may be an event idea you haven’t yet thought of.
- Story slams are in. And like the music programs above, they’re not yet overused. Story and narrative helps with the understanding and the telling of mission and message. This really fits well with corporate groups since being able to tell the story of who you are and what you do is vital; not only for sales and marketing but to increase engagement and focus.
- Visual facilitation, a/k/a graphic facilitation, can be a great component to almost any event. A visual facilitator will illustrate the content of your meeting as it unfolds. For example, it can turn a metric filled keynote presentation into a visual feast that distracts attendees to actually help them better engage and focus. Imagine turning your spreadsheets into artsy representations filled with humor. Whether this is the focal point of your event or accompaniment, it’s worth considering.
- Coming up with a theme may be all you need to help put the other pieces in place. Here’s one quick example. Turn a boring awards dinner into something fun by incorporating a space theme. Project constellations onto the ceiling, incorporate a zero-gravity experience or a ride that lets you experience g-force. Don’t take this too literally, it’s just to get you thinking out of your typical box.
Lastly, remember you’ll never please all of the people all of the time. I believe it’s most important to find fun, engaging events that will be memorable. Sometimes the most fun events inherently turn a few people off. No matter how hard you try, this year’s program may be a hit with ninety percent of your workforce but a nonstarter for others.
Do the best you can to consider input and be inclusive of ideas and concerns. But don’t choose a tepid, boring program just because it’s safe. Remember, there’s always next year to please the people you didn’t please at this year’s corporate event.