One Attendee Giveaway to Rule Them All

If only we could fine this one!
If only we could fine The One!

Rumor has it we attended the first installment of Lord of the Rings at the stroke of midnight.
Rumor also has it that we may have been in costume – though there are no photos to prove or disprove this.

In the years since that movie – which was epic btw – we have often thought of the ring, specifically the inscription:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

With meeting giveaways, it’s more like:

One Item that ties to the strategy, One Item to source and produce on time and on budget,
One Item to make everyone feel like part of the team and we can distribute in a dark ballroom

In other words, we need swag with serious swagger.

The Joe Show is a great resources for fresh ideas – beyond the usual hats, wristbands, and notebooks.  Produced by the Advertising Specialties Institute, it features managing editor Joe Haley’s 3-minute take on the latest promotional items.

Buzz through the videos to jumpstart your thinking. In the time you save, you can binge watch the LOTR movies…you know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Getting More From Leadership Meetings

Go Team! Wait...what are we cheering for?
Go Team! Wait…what are we cheering for?

Oh Joy!  Another Leadership Meeting where we’ll discuss big ideas like STRATEGY and CULTURE and GROWTH.  We’ll have breakouts, keynotes, and maybe even paint a local school.  Then we’ll head back to our offices, slowly forget the firehouse of information until the next meeting rolls around.

There must be a better way.

Fortunately, Bob Frish and Cary Greene, partners of the Strategic Offsites Group, have penned a great article in this month’s Harvard Business Review. Packed with practical recommendations, it’s a step-by-step template for a successful Leadership Summit, specifically:

  1. Assign clear roles that have real authority.
  2. Define a clear set of objectives for the conference.
  3. Start the conversation before the event (hint: pre-event surveys).
  4. Design the event around the objectives.
  5. Engage participants before they arrive onsite (think webcasts).
  6. Pay attention to pacing and rhythm (mix up presentations, tablework, etc.)
  7. Be flexible by using real-time feedback.
  8. Go for three-way communication (stage to audience, audience to stage, peer to peer).
  9. Use high and low tech to kickstart ideas.
  10. Be deliberate about connecting attendees to each other (uber-networking).
  11. Create succinct takeaways for post-event cascade.
  12. Follow up on promises made at the meeting.
  13. Keep the conversation going.

Included in the article are: a pre- and post-event calendar, a chart of tools to solicit attendee input, and a list conference of roles and responsibilities.

While I disagree with the relegation of meeting content to a mid-level strategy or communications person, the rest of the article rings true.  Any event should be part of an overall corporate communications calendar.  Without this context, companies risk over-communicating with employees and diminishing impact.  A webcast for one initiative may overlap with the kick-off presentation of another, or employees may receive several teasers, surveys and invitations – all on the same day.

With a Leadership Conference in particular, what is being said – and how – must 1) align with the communication strategy, 2) promote the internal brand, and 3) adhere to corporate brand standards – all 3 of which are driven by senior leadership within the corporate communications department.

That being said, it’s a well-written, thought-provoking article that will help you develop a leadership summit that actually produces results.

One Speaker Tip That Will Transform Your Meeting
For the love of God, make it stop!

How many of us have sat through a 9-hour presentation?

OK…a slight exaggeration, but when a meeting is just one speaker after another with no time built in for Q&A or peer interaction, that “captive” audience can feel, well, just plain trapped.

In a recent interview with Success Magazine, author Adrian Segar (Conferences That Work: Creating Events That People Love), shared his thoughts on what makes a successful meeting, including this tip that can transform your checked-out attendees into a fully-engaged group:

Use speakers strategically.

This means internal and external presenters.  Replace those one-sided, 45-mintue death by PowerPoint (or Keynote – pretty pictures can’t save a boring talk), with shorter speaker segments – say 20 minutes – followed by peer- or facilitator-led roundtable discussions. This provides your audience with just enough information to get their internal juices going without overwhelming them. And, it’s a great springboard for quality interaction between your attendees.

Segar provides other helpful insights, like creating a community and finding ways to provide value.  Read the entire article here.

“You Like Me, You Really Like Me!”

All work and no recognition makes employees dull listeners.

Liven up your next meeting with a round of “Happy Birthday” for birthdays in the month, “S/He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” for anniversaries, and “We’re So Glad You’re Here” (Happy Birthday tune) for new hires.

Can’t sing? Don’t worry. You’re not trying to win a Grammy.

Just showin’ a little love.