As someone who has spent over a decade planning and producing events, I can attest that corporate conferences and summits are an entity all unto themselves. Taking the typical corporate event and adding layer upon layer of programs, speakers, panels, breakout sessions, meals, hotel rooms and more, usually spread out over the course of 2-3 days, and you’ve got yourself a virtual tsunami of details to stay on top of, schedules to maintain, staff to organize, and fires to put out.
It’s about as challenging an event planning role there is; to my colleagues in the corporate conference and summit industry, I salute you.
While often a component as well, corporate conference entertainment tends to remain understandably overlooked, as other details more central to the event’s purpose take priority during the early planning stages. Especially at functions spanning multiple days, attendees (and event producers) often need a break from the endless wave of information and networking, usually at the end of the day after the final session has concluded.
The problem conference event planners face, however, is: what kind of activity should we do?
No two conferences are alike, after all. That activity attendees at Conference X were raving about may not necessarily receive such wild reviews at Conference Y, and last year’s successful conference entertainment activity may no longer be the right choice for this year’s attendees.
Here are 5 questions to help you decide which activity would be the best fit for your audience:
1. Why Do We Need Entertainment? – This is the most important question: why are we doing this at all? Is it just because people need a break, or do we want to integrate new team members with a social activity? Are we rewarding a job well done, or trying to boost morale after a recent rough patch? Get a clear sense of your goals for the entertainment portion of the conference, and it will help steer you towards an appropriate activity.
2. Who Are Our Attendees? – Just who are these people? What makes them tick? Are they a competitive sales force? Medical professionals? Computer programmers? Fishing tackle enthusiasts? Consider your audience’s lifestyle, passions and interests when selecting an activity.
3. Do Attendees Know Each Other? – Very often they do, in the case of a regional or national company meeting. However, conferences drawing together disparate individuals or small groups joined by a shared interest means a lot of people who don’t know each other, and may feel isolated. Consider how social, inclusive and competitive you want the entertainment to be.
4. Should the Entertainment be Active or Passive? – Not every audience wants to be actively involved in a group activity; likewise, not every group wants to sit on their hands and be entertained by someone else. Ask yourself: which kind of audience will this be? What kind of entertainment activity will they respond best to?
5. What is the Audience Expecting? – Does this audience expect to be entertained every year? Do they expect the entertainment to be mind-blowing? Do they expect it to stink? Should we play it safe with what resonated in the past, or will they be anticipating something new? Let history help you out here: what worked well last time? What didn’t?
Believe me, you will have more than enough questions to ask a corporate event entertainment vendor after you have ultimately settled on an activity. During the initial conference planning stages, however, make sure to ask the big questions above, in order to most appropriately match a corporate conference audience with a suitable form of group entertainment.
Do you have any wisdom to share regarding the selection of corporate conference entertainment activities? Please feel free to share below!