How to: Design and run a corporate event

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This expert guide written by corporate event providers Jolly Serious Events suggests some useful ways of making 'away days' more than 'just a jolly'.

Why run them? Corporate events or team 'away days' can involve anything from an afternoon’s paint balling, an evenings bowling to having a few beers down the pub. The typical away day provides a great way for people to mingle and have fun and for companies to feel they are motivating and inspiring their staff.

Something different: However, it might be that you would like to do something a bit more adventurous but not be quite sure where to start. It is actually possible to take corporate events to new heights of creativity and effectiveness in terms of business impact as well as fun.

Incorporate messages: The experience can be used to deliver very real business messages, from the obvious such as, 'effective communication improves results' to the less tangible, 'this organisation is changing, it needs your understanding and commitment even though we're not sure where we'll be in five years time'. As a recent report from the industrial society has shown, keeping staff happy is seen as an essential part of the relationship between employer and employee. Investors in People have their own ten top tips - one of which is "Communicate the objectives of the business to everybody. Making people feel part of the organisation increases their aspirations to contribute." - as well as the standard "build teams" and "treat employees as humans."

Let your imagination go. It is worth starting by asking how you can convey these kinds of messages in a new and innovative way. A way that is inclusive, intelligent, fun and memorable - let your imagination go.

Set Objectives. Consider what you want to achieve through the events it just for fun or do you want to communicate a little more deeply? How can you reflect that in the design of the event? Remember, the best events are those that balance creativity and practicality, so make sure that your gem of an idea is actually workable.

For example, if you are looking to enhance team spirit and develop a culture, where people learn from each other, what about devising a treasure hunt with a few twists? Design the event so that participants have to swap, share and mix information to reach their goal. Incorporate quirky characters and circus skills, set enigmatic clues and unusual tasks for people to complete. Use company-specific information for clues, product names and famous characters or use unusual means of transport and devise performances of a musical, theatrical or poetic kind. Here is a checklist that will enable you to establish 'first principles.' They will keep you clear and focused throughout the process - constantly refer back to them during the design and planning stages. They will allow you to be flexible and imaginative whilst retaining a high level of pragmatism.

Ten top tips

  1. What are your objectives?
  2. How do you want the event to feel?
  3. What is the business context in which it is placed?
  4. Who are the participants? Who are the audience? Are they the same?
  5. How are you going to sell this internally?
  6. Are their any deliverable messages you wish to communicate?
  7. What is your budget, does it just come from your area or are other departments involved as well?
  8. Constraints? Don't get carried away, but don't think too small either.
  9. How are you going to measure success once the dust has settled?
  10. Can you generate any publicity around this?

And finally... It goes without saying that an obsessive level of attention to detail is required at all stages, and planning for all contingencies is a bit like "how long is a piece of string?" However, you will find that by constantly referring to your first principles and designing your event with creativity and careful thought, it is possible to create an exciting experience that is great fun and can effectively communicate serious corporate messages that will be lodged firmly in the organisations consciousness – hopefully for the right reasons!

JollySerious Events design and deliver corporate events throughout the UK and can be contacted on 0117 944 5361 or via e-mail.

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