We’ve all been there.

You’re at your company’s annual conference, sitting for hours in a stale ballroom listening to a seemingly endless parade of presenters.  One after one, they dazzle us (okay, not really) with their exciting (okay, who are we kidding) PowerPoint presentations, and their compelling (okay, not usually) talking points.

All right, maybe that’s a little too critical but I think you know what I’m talking about.

Studies show us that lecture-based presentations yield only a 5% retention – yes, you read that right, 5%!  Those same studies also show that attendee engagement/interaction provides TEN TIMES the amount of retention than lecture. Seriously.

That statistic alone should have us all scrambling to find better ways to engage our audiences and drive deeper impact.  The National Training Laboratory suggests that “varying study methods will lead to deeper learning and longer-term retention.”  One of the biggest challenges in planning corporate events,however, is creating that kind of engagement.

Never Fear!  Here are three fun and effective corporate event ideas to inspire you as you plan your next national sales meeting, training event, business meeting, or conference.

Musical Chairs:  This format is a simple and effective way to host large group dialogue. The process begins with the first of two or more rounds of discussion for groups of 6-10 seated around a table. Each round begins with a question.

At the end of each 15 – 20-minute round, each member of the group moves to a different table, where a new question or topic is discussed.  We recommend that each table has a host who remains at the table and facilitates the discussion for all rounds; they will also take notes. 

Questions can range from simple networking ice-breakers to intense work sessions.  A couple ideas:

  1. Getting to Know You – Start with a short round where people share something interesting about their lives.  You could accomplish this by playing the old party game, “Three Truths and a Lie.” Participants tell three true things about their lives, and one non-truth, but don’t disclose which is which.  The others around the table then vote on which item they believe was the “lie.”  It’s a lot of fun and helps people quickly connect with each other!
  2. Deeper Dive – Following a couple general sessions featuring key company initiatives or new training material, the “musical chairs” session can focus on unpacking the objectives, or creative brainstorming on how to implement the training. This will further drive the impact of the general session material.

Once all rounds have been completed, key points from each table are presented to the whole group for a final collective discussion.

Silent Disco Talks:  This format allows multiple presenters to speak simultaneously within the same room (this is particularly useful if you have a big agenda with many speakers). Participants wear wireless headphones with various channels they can switch between in order to tune into different speakers.

Attendees are typically more engaged because they are always listening to something that interests them.

This format can also come in handy during breakout sessions, especially if your venue is limited on available breakout space.  Each presenter can take one corner of the room, with participants gathered around them wearing their headsets.  And you only need one room to accomplish it!

There is a little bit of extra audio/visual support needed for this format, but a quality event production company can make this happen for you (yes, that link will take you directly to Transperia’s website 😉).

Fireside Chat:  This format mixes both presentational and interactive elements.  The session starts with a speaker at the front of the room presenting an idea.  After a somewhat short presentation of 10 – 15 minutes (max), shift the focus from the presenter to the audience.  For the remainder of the session, the presenter becomes a facilitator, inviting comments, insights, and questions from the audience.

This format can be repeated with additional material from the same speaker, or could be followed by a new presenter sharing a new topic (think TED Talks).  Things will move quickly, and the fast pace will keep everyone on their toes.

Fireside Chats allow attendees to drive their own learning and share experiences with others.  This also assists with networking and engagement, and allows people to connect and contribute. 

There you go.  A few corporate event solutionsto get you started.  You can find a few other ideas here as well.  Hopefully these ideas sparked some creativity for you.  By adding some intentional interactive material, you can break that 5% lecture-based retention curve, and make your corporate event even more dynamic!

Have any other ideas you’d like to share?  If so, send us a note.  We just may highlight it in an upcoming post.Here’s to you and your interactive-engaging creativity!

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