Would you like to use this year’s annual company event or conference to really make ideas stick and support your teams? If you do, read on, because we’re about to share ideas with you about how to do just that…
The level of success experienced by event organisers can be a bit hit and miss. Immediately after the event, excitement, inspiration and motivation will be at its peak, but what happened to that high energy 30, 60 or even 90 days later?
Are attendees still thinking about the annual company event weeks or months later? Are they using something that was useful and practical to improve their role, their life and the business as a whole? Chances are, the answer is no. And there’s a good reason for this…
Understanding the need for event objectives
When the impact of an annual company event or conference is not sustained over a long period it’s often because the keynote speaker didn’t fit a clear objective the company had for the event. And when we say a ‘clear objective’ for the event, we don’t just actually mean for the event…
When we say ‘clear objective’ we’re referring to an overarching objective or theme the company is working on. This objective and theme aren’t just event based, they are linked to a plan, often an annual plan, to deliberately learn or develop a skill, methodology or mindset that will support and sustain the growth of the business and its people.
How company event planning pays off
Let’s just imagine for a moment that your company has just decided that it needs to take an issue more seriously. Let’s call that issue ‘climate change’ as an example.
Let’s say it’s not currently top of the board’s agenda, but there is pressure building within the team to have it become a priority. The board know they need to do something and it is a problem the business ultimately has to solve, because it’s recognised that without a planet, there is no business. So, senior leadership have decided they need to learn more about what they can do and get a plan into action.
The board issue a directive to the events team that this year, the theme is: ‘Living In Harmony With The Planet’.
At this point, the decision is also made not to just have that as the company event theme, but a theme that runs throughout the company throughout the year. To kick the new theme off, you invite Sharon Jackson, keynote speaker on climate change to kick off the annual company event, but you don’t stop there…
Having invested in Sharon Jackson for the keynote, the company consults with Sharon and decides that they should involve her in some workshops and trainings for the team, set roughly 90 days apart.
It could be that the workshops are done onsite, or it could be that at least one of the workshops happens off-site at Sharon Jackson’s European Sustainability Academy. Whatever choice is made about location, this decision means that the learning from the keynote is driven deeper and kept front of mind. But there is more that can be done…
Using the annual company event throughout the year
Imagine that there is also a way to take the keynote delivered by Sharon Jackson on climate change and use it throughout the year…
Someone in your marketing communications department has the idea that, if the annual company keynote was captured on video, it could be cut and edited into reminders that could be posted on the company internal website or slack channel, and email snippets could be sent as nudges and reminders in between trainings and workshops. This helps keep the keynote theme front of mind.
Also, a forward-thinking person in the team suggests that a think-tank should be set up, so the learning can be driven deeper and even implemented. There are a number of people in the business who are enthused by this idea and who want to be part of that think-tank. The company ensure at least one person from each department is involved, so the ideas and information are continually shared and spread throughout the year.
Embedding the idea by going public
As the year progresses the company has made serious inroads into their environmental impact. The think-tank committee are feeling proud, the business feels good because it knows it’s making a difference and now the company decide to share what they have done with its stakeholders. As the company beings to talk on Social Media, the stakeholders start to share what you are doing, because they are proud of the association with you. Interestingly, HR now have some new issues…
HR report that sick days have fallen because staff have a greater sense of purpose in their work and a greater respect for their employer. The only people to leave the company are the few you would be happy to let go, but when you advertise a new role HR are astonished to see that the quality of applicants has risen because the company PR, following the changes made, has attracted a new level of applicants.
The company is now being seen as a thought-leader and a company with clear values that applicants want to be associated with.
As a result, the company profitability sky-rockets, because there are fewer sick days, fewer people to retrain in new jobs, and much higher engagement in the work. When the company looks back at the investment it made, it can easily see that aligning the annual company event to a clear objective that runs through the year, and has a period pulse, reminder and action plan, has led to a huge success.
The following year, the company decide to continue their work on climate change, but now they want to see how they can help effect the supply chain. Meanwhile, the board have noticed that its staff want to tackle the issue of ‘belonging,’ and shift unconscious bias in the business. The company set a new theme for the annual company event and the cycle continues with the company engaging and keeping exceptional people, who just keep taking the company to higher levels due to high levels of commitment, loyalty and talent.
The opposite effect – where the annual company event has no purpose
Let’s just turn back to the ‘not uncommon scenario’ where the annual company event has no ties to any big picture. You can select any speaker, on any topic, invest £10,000 for the speaker and the motivation and inspiration from that speaker will evaporate within days. But when it is tied to an annual plan, you can now see what is possible…
In summary – what happens when the annual company event is tied to a bigger plan…
When the keynote is cemented within an annual plan, ROI is almost guaranteed. Here’s why:
1.Because keynote speakers are thought-leaders, subject matter experts and excellent communicators they can take a complex idea and make it simple and easy to understand in a 30–60-minute presentation.
2. A great keynote, with follow up sessions, provides some repetition of ideas to drive the idea and theme into the subconscious. By adding additional workshops and training, and an annual plan, the company creates a rhythm that will keep the keynote front of mind. If a mantra or metaphor is introduced into the keynote or via a workshop, this will be something that can guide the entire organisations thinking. It gives them a key phrase to rally around or focus their mind.
3. People in the organisation see the company doing something about a global issue (whether that’s climate change, mental health, belonging and inclusion, understanding remote working or something else). It gives caring people a sense of purpose and encourages their loyalty and efforts.
4. People outside of the organisation have more respect for the organisation. They see it has values and purpose and they want to become customers or employees.
Will your organisation now think bigger picture and tie it’s annual event to a larger plan?
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