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5 Ways to Resurrect your 2020 Conference

Is there a nagging feeling in your gut that this year, more than any other it’s important to get staff and leaders together?

Do you feel it is time to share the strategy which has changed so much? Is there a need to generate a sense of one organisation, separated by distance but united in purpose? Do your people deserve to be recognised for going the extra mile whilst stuck at home?

Some have simply cancelled their plans but in doing so will fail to give their business the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. Braver leaders are taking a bolder route, exploring new ways of communicating the mission and preparing now for the approaching moment when we can meet face to face. Here are five ways to reengage a large cohort without compromising health.

Unthinkable thinking

The world has changed and so have our lives. We may have even adopted a new outlook, refocused on what really matters –health over wealth, friends over followers. We could be forgiven for feeling that we’ve done enough, we’ve adapted and changed to cope with our new reality.

Have we done enough? In the months and years to come, it won’t be sufficient to simply cope. We must be prepared to reinvent our products, our work and ourselves to thrive in a future which is hard to imagine. Many others have written on the societal and economic changes we are likely to encounter, so I won’t elongate this piece by repeating their words. My concern today is with our thinking. How has this changed and does it need to?


Big Budget Boredom

Once upon a time a well known retailer was working hard to recover from a slump and wanted it’s store leaders to stop competing against one another and instead share their best ideas and resources. A noble and wise message.

During the months of build up their conference agency designed, refined and honed an event to inspire their top 500. The AV team produced a phenomenal stage and set. There was even a wardrobe department with a seamstress on hand. The budget ran to several hundred thousand pounds.

On paper the programme looked impressive and inspiring. Until the management team took to the stage, all of them! Each ignoring their five minute allocation and instead sharing their perspective for ten, fifteen and in one case twenty minutes!

All were reasonably accomplished speakers, one or two were entertaining but none had rehearsed and they had certainly not compared notes to avoid repeating themselves. Each extolled the value of collaboration, yet their three hour marathon to a post lunch audience in a darkened room simply illustrated that they hadn’t worked together.

Just after 6pm the jaded audience emerged, two hours late somewhat less than inspired.

If you are organising a conference, start with what your delegates will feel, not with what they see. Bright lights have a momentary impact but a well structured message with audience participation can last a lifetime.

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