Year after 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 there are so many other activities 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 are required to do so. To create an innovative event,think outside of the box, give people something they hadn't even considered. Henry Ford once said, "If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘A faster horse.’ Offer something that hasn't been created yet. That's innovation.
Don't do the expected. Most conventions have 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? That's just what happened to me at one conference where 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. As it turned out, it was a very lively conference speaking engagements and it was very memorable.
Use technology to your advantage. The most innovative things these days involve technology. Technological strides have 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? One example is by using the gadgets that allow people to vote in meetings and it quickly calculates results.
A few other ideas:
Have a ladies (or men) only event. The purpose is to segregate the group to celebrate and build synergy. For a 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.
Have an ethnic night. To honor the incredible diversity in a crowd, have a night with different ethnic foods for people to try. Hire a professional to teach the group a cultural dance.
Have a theme. Hire a dynamic motivational speaker who can tie in the theme. Humor, motivation and inspiration need to be reinvigorating for every success- bound industry, so it is crucial to have a motivational, inspiring message for people to take away.
Give delegates a way to unwind and rejuvenate. At a convention, people want to balance learning with networking and downtime. If the 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 relaxation 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 relaxation room, a 5 minute foot or neck massage, a cup of relaxing tea. Some conventions offer meditation or yoga.
Hire famous motivational speakers like Donald Trump or George Bush. They will have their own following of people who will come to an event just to hear their idols.
Motivational Speaker Jody Urquhart