Incorporating creative ideas into your next event can help turn an unremarkable afternoon into a memorable one. You may even make a lasting impression on a handful of members on the team. Over the past several years, creating memorable experiences has become a primary focus for a younger generation of working professionals.
Labeled as the “experience economy,” this mentality represents how the Millennial generation defines happiness. According to recent research, the Millennial generation is less interested in possessions or career status than they are in living a life defined by creating, sharing, and capturing memories through experiences. In fact, 77 percent of Millennials say some of their best memories are from an event or live experience they attended, whereas 69 percent believe that live events and experiences connect them to other people, the community, and the world.
As Millennials account for more than one-fourth of the total U.S. population, this emphasis on experiences can manifest itself across corporate events as well. While we aren’t suggesting that you must host a high-energy festival to pique the interest of your Millennial employees, it’s still entirely possible to incorporate creative concepts into your current event strategy. The following are some ways to do that.
Japanese for “chitchat” or “chatter,” Pecha Kucha is an alternative presentation format where hosts show 20 images for 20 seconds each. Devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in 2003, the format was intended to serve as an alternative, simple way to engage audience members.
Rather than rely on PowerPoint presentations and long-winded speeches, Pecha Kucha forces speakers to present only their strongest points and refine their speeches to focus on material that is immediately relevant to their audience. Speakers are able to supplement their presentations with pictures and images, with the only rule being that they must not pass the six-minute mark.
Granted, not all presentations should be confined to six minutes. However, if it fits your subject matter, it’s worth a try.
The World Café—sometimes referred to as Knowledge Café—is a structured conversational process designed to spark discussion across small groups that are then linked to larger groups. First organized in 1995, these events emphasize not only speaking and listening, but also alternative forms of learning such as visual.
Generally, the event kicks off with a keynote address in which a facilitator provides a series of open-ended questions based on a predetermined topic. Next, groups gather around small, round tables, where participants discuss and digest the problems at hand. Finally, the smaller groups come together as one large group and, through collective intelligence, discuss options and solutions.
Above all, the World Café method emphasizes the importance of creating a comfortable environment for participants. The goal of this style of corporate events is to create an inviting environment that mimics friendly conversations with friends. Much like experiential learning, this corporate-event technique requires participants to actively engage in an immersive challenge that mirrors problems they face in the real world.
Championed by the technology industry, an unconference—also known as an Open Space conference—is a participant-driven corporate event style that’s based on the idea that team members have as much collective knowledge as the group of presenters. The format creates space that fosters peer-to-peer learning and collaboration by encouraging audience participation.
Sessions will run the gamut from informal to formal topics. Generally, all of your conference participants will gather to be guided through creating an agenda together. It is not necessary to prepare sessions; nor is there a prescribed “right way” to lead a session. Instead, unconferencing is designed to provide an open format that encourages organic interaction and discussion. If you need help getting things off the ground, below are a few ideas for sessions:
- Longer presentations: Generally reserved for big ideas.
- Short presentations: Five to 15 minutes of prepared material and comments, followed by interactive discussions.
- Group discussions: Have team members introduce a topic they are interested in, while others join the conversation.
- Big (or little) questions: Encourage team members to openly ask questions and then discuss potential answers.
- Show and tell: Have team members provide quick presentations on projects, demos, or anything else they’re involved with.
Again, it is not necessary for those attending to understand the exact process in advance; the format will become clear as the conference unfolds. What’s more important is that those gathered have the opportunity to put their own ideas and sessions on the agenda.
Experiential learning sessions are truly creative ways to inspire interactions among your participants while naturally building a wide range of skills and abilities. These events mask critical training as immersive challenges and can be centered on a theme. What’s more, experiential learning programs can be designed to address specific business topics such as improving communication, collaboration, accountability, and decision-making.
By appealing to their senses, experiential learning fully engages individuals and inspires them to reflect on their decisions. This ensures that event content is relevant to your team members’ responsibilities and goals.