Rule-breaking inspiration for your next company conference
We recently designed and delivered a rule-breaking 200-person conference with one of our client teams which has received rave reviews and tons of positive feedback. What was so special? Here are some highlights and ideas for you to steal with glee.
Rule: “You can’t do conferences on-site”
RULE BREAKER> These smart clients used one of their on-site facilities to great effect, saving a bunch of cash and enabling teams at the ‘home’ site to showcase some of their best science in their own labs. In addition to using all the meeting rooms available, they booked an event tent to be built outside the rear entrance to the facility, which created a large heated, sheltered area for catering, coffee breaks and breakout workshops – with tons of natural light and fresh air.
Rule: “Everyone needs an hour to present their work”
RULE BREAKER> In order to fit everyone in, the team had to be clever with the agenda.
- The highlight each day was a high-energy one-hour morning session focussed on 12 speakers, each sharing a five-minute Innovation Jam on a different topics. Each Innovation Jam showcased some of the presenter’s most exciting work, with the opportunity to follow up in-depth with presenters via poster sessions and lab visits later in the day.
- During the course of 2 days, 150 live audience members plus up to 200 Skype participants experienced a total of 3 keynote speakers, 24 short presentations, 16 workshops, 80 poster sessions and 15 site visits. The days were broken up into 1,5-2 hour sections, with 30-minute breaks between each agenda section, leaving plenty of time for follow-up discussions and networking.
- The overall agenda shape was carefully thought through
- Day One – A short energising morning welcome was followed by two 45-minute keynote speeches and Q+A, then after a break a series of high energy 5-minute Innovation Jams were presented showcasing some of the innovation taking place among the TSO community right now. After a break for lunch, the afternoon consisted of a series of workshop sessions allowing everyone to get deeper into some key topic discussions and generate new ideas together. The day ended with an early evening ‘walking dinner’ – see below for more on that!
- Day Two – Another energising welcome led into a 45-minute keynote speech, followed by a second set of 12, high-energy Innovation Jam presentations. After a close to the formal proceedings the conference moved on to a series of poster sessions and site visits for the remainder of day 2, allowing for further interaction, discussion and sharing.
Rule: “There has to be a formal dinner”
RULE BREAKER> Conference dinners that involve bus rides to special locations and organised schedules are often the part that people dread. The inevitable delays in getting food, and the rigid timing structure is hell if you’re on a different time zone, and the lack of flexibility around transport.
The brilliant solution was a ‘walking dinner’ that happened as soon as the conference finished for the day. This involved booking two high-end food trucks to park outside the front of the building, and erecting a canopy between them to provide a social area for people to hang out. Drinks trays circulated among the guests and everyone was able to grab snacks or a full dinner in their own time, and leave when they were ready.
This made for a relaxed atmosphere in which guests could enjoy each others’ company without the pressure of a formal dinner setting – and enabled much more mingling and group discussion than a sit-down event would have done.
All of these ideas were created by the client team themselves, inspired by a one-day Conference Design Workshop with us. If you’d like to get your team inspired around the rule-breaking possibilities at your conference click below.