Planning a corporate event is a lot of work, and it’s easy to get into a pattern of reusing the same agenda and format that has worked in the past. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with using what works, the most exciting and memorable events will be the ones that are fresh and unique. But how do you come up with unique ideas, and more importantly, how do you pull them off? Here are some tips.
1. An Open Mind to Fresh Ideas and Out-of-the-Box Thinking
Before you get down to the serious business of planning budget, timing, and logistics, take a moment for some blue-sky brainstorming. If budget and timing were not an issue, what is something you would love to see at your next corporate event? What has your company never done but would love to do if they had no limitations? What are the buzzwords and trends in the industry? What are other organizations doing that you’d love to try? Don’t edit your thinking at this stage – just get the ideas out.
Looking at your list, you’ll surely have some big and unattainable dreams. Perfect! Now look at the list in a different light – what are the patterns, and what are the feelings you are trying to evoke with the ideas? And what are the elements you can realistically pull from? For example:
Desired outcome: Get your team far out of their comfort zones
Blue-Sky Idea: Take the entire team skydiving – not realistic due to cost, safety, logistics
Solution: Take the team to an indoor skydiving simulation – a safe and controlled environment that is fun yet cost-effective
Desired outcome: Get the team out of the office in order to escape daily distractions and focus on building stronger teams
Blue-Sky Idea: Take the whole team on a trip that includes fun activities to help build relationships
Solution: Create a highly-themed experiential event that not only builds strong relationships, but is so immersive that attendees temporarily forget that it’s a corporate initiative
Both of these examples show how a big, juicy, unrealistic concept can lead you to a unique, yet achievable, corporate event idea that achieves the same goal. If you limit your brainstorming to ideas that are realistic, you risk missing the creative one that sparks your unique event.
2. Get Stakeholder Buy-in and Support
Whether it’s your boss, a client, or your organization’s leadership team, your stakeholders will have the final say over most of the decisions about a corporate event. If you are looking to break the mold and introduce something unique and different to the event, you’ll need to get buy-in from your stakeholders early. That way you will have plenty of time to adjust, reconsider, or even go back to the drawing board if necessary.
When you are pitching corporate event ideas, be clear and concise about your vision, and how it will achieve your stakeholders’ objectives for the event. If you haven’t clarified their objectives, your pitch will be a shot in the dark, and you risk ending up with the same old things over and over – and no one will benefit. So clarify and confirm the goals ahead of your pitch meeting so you can clearly connect your plan to their desired outcomes.
Come to stakeholder meetings with more than one idea, and all of the information related to what it would take to execute each – including cost, required time, and so on. Support for your ideas comes from trust, and trust comes from being prepared to show how your plan supports organizational goals and objectives, falls within the prescribed budget, and can be executed flawlessly on event day. You simply cannot plan a unique corporate event without stakeholder buy-in and support, so make sure you listen to their goals and address their concerns so you earn that trust.
3. Agreement on Budget and Logistics
Once you have buy-in from your stakeholders, it’s time to nail down the budget. The expectation is that you will rise to the challenge of delivering a successful event regardless of budget and logistical limits, but having support from your stakeholders will make it easier to have those difficult conversations about what is possible.
It’s important to set expectations around what you can actually deliver with the available budget. For example, if the event budget is firm, it is likely more important to invest in valuable content than in a celebrity chef caterer or luxury venue. Ensuring that the content itself is unique and memorable will go a long way towards an event that is truly unique for attendees and impressive to your stakeholders.
4. Unwavering Commitment to the Event Goal
Even if you’ve clearly established the goals for a corporate event, it can be all too easy to lose sight of them as the months roll by. When planning a unique corporate event, you must balance the novelty with impact and budget. Sometimes you have to reign in the ideas by remembering the goal and objectively examining how each one supports the goal – and letting go of the ones that don’t. If the event is unique for the sake of being unique, it could lose its impact on attendees. Always keep the goals in mind while planning your event so that you’re able to deliver an event that is not only unique, but successfully achieves the desired outcomes.
Planning Unique Corporate Events Is Achievable
Planning unique corporate events is the ultimate goal of any event professional or internal meeting planner. Getting there takes a bit of extra work compared to a tried-and-true agenda, but with a bit of creative thinking, engaging stakeholders early to gain their support, prioritizing the right items in the budget, and keeping the event goals as the top priority, you’ll pull off an event that is unique and valuable both for attendees and the organization. If you’re ready to plan a unique and engaging corporate event, check out our guide to Choosing a Corporate Event Agenda that Wows for some more great ideas.