By John Kershaw, Producer, Pumphouse.
With the advance of technology events nowadays are rarely lack luster or dull. Most really pack a punch and create quite an impression.
The big question however, that many seem to ignore, is are they actually hitting the mark? The fact that this appears to be such an obvious question is possibly why it gets left out of the equation so frequently.
Research has shown that corporate events often only achieve 65% of their corporate objective because they are not focused around the actual delegate.
Focus is more frequently centered around creating a stunning overall event, yet it is the micro-detail of who the event is targeting and how the agenda and content is shaped around them which needs to be more closely addressed.
Simply by shifting the mindset to creating a delegate-centric event can make all the difference.
To identify and exploit the best possible opportunities requires a set of procedures that ensure the delegate experience is kept at the heart of the event.
A delegate emotional map can help set out a virtual event which enables teams to hone into how best to motivate, excite, inspire, reassure or clearly address the audience.
It ensures that an agenda is developed to create flow, it studies what core messages need to be delivered and when - and defines the best ways of doing this.
Traditionally video, lighting, sound and the environment are the key factors event organisers focus on.
Powerful engagement however can’t be achieved without first deconstructing the content and re-building the format and pace of the event to ensure every single touchpoint is working its hardest at reaching the delegate.
Years of observation have enabled us to distill a corporate message and weave it into the very fabric of an event.
It does take courage to throw out the traditional, well trodden path and approach communication in a whole new way, but the delegate take-away is all the more powerful.
By discarding the linear agenda we work closely with the management team, applying the emotional map to the core agenda. This rapidly highlights the sudden peaks followed by deep troughs of the delegate engagement. It is a fascinating process.
If there are any tough messages to convey there is no point trying to communicate these after a four hour powerpoint presentation. Instead, delegates need to be sensitised to the purpose of the meeting, sometimes even prior to the actual event. The momentum needs to be set in motion well before the key messages are to be delivered.
Leadership teams need to define and clearly prioritise these key messages. This is then followed by several, short experiences that communicate effectively with the audience.
In doing this the peaks of the emotional map are more sustainable at a level where engagement is maximised.
A range of techniques can be employed from video in a cinema setting, live presentation via a comedy club and workshop sessions for two-way dialogue, to a street market where the whole business could be represented.
The true measure of success is when feedback shows that delegates leave an event fully understanding the business strategy and their role in delivering it.
Success has nothing to do with whether it started and finished on time or whether the tea and coffee was hot.
Communicating key messages in an engaging format does not always allow for delegates to leave their desks for long either. In fact in the current economic climate this is becoming quite an issue.
Producing short sessions that can be run as a series of events on-site is becoming very popular. This modular approach is all about de-constructing the key issues again.
If we can’t get everyone to attend an event, what can we create that is equally engaging, offers surprise and highlights a given corporate message.
Bringing in actors, or coaches that align with the message to be conveyed has far more impact if strategically themed.
Productivity statistics following these type of events clearly point to improvement across a variety of identified measures .
The challenge is to keep pushing the boundaries of meaningful engagement whilst keeping costs down.
Creativity and innovation should never be compromised but even more importantly the delegate experience should be thought through at every stage of the process.
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