company conferences that hit the mark

blog: company conferences

How many times have you left a company conference and thought, well that’s a part of my life I won’t get back?

 

Conferences are an essential part of workforce engagement and bonding, but they come with their challenges. Putting a large group of people in a room and expecting them to listen to the speaker to the speaker for hours on end is not only painful but can be soul-destroying.

The human truth is that our average attention span is short – 20 minutes – and each of us is on a  different time cycle so at any time it is inevitable that a portion of the room will have switched off! That is why you need to significantly dial up the engagement levels in the conference so that everyone’s brain cells are firing and their heart rates are up. This is how…

Typical engagement tools include keynote and motivational speakers, which certainly work well to raise the tempo, but the group is still static listening from their seats. We believe that the real trick to engagement lies in getting the audience on their feet, moving them around and actively participating in the event, be that through individual or group activities and events.

Another human truth that is worth noting is that people usually respond well when under pressure. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love a little friendly competition, especially when there are prizes on offer? Pitting tables against one another in fun team challenges is a surefire way of getting their heart rates up and electrifying the room. Try it and you’ll see just how powerful a little fun competition is.

The real trick though is making sure that the activities you run, the competition you organise and the challenges you set all relate directly back to the conference theme and what the desired outputs are of the event. Too often, conferences involve fun activities that bear no relevance or connection to the desired messaging the business leaders are looking for. So, whilst they are fun, they can seem frivolous and trivial both during and after the conference, which will undermine the credibility, value and worth of having the whole company team together in the first place as people will reflect post-event as they trudge through their backlog of emails that their time could have been better spent at their desk.

So, the trick is to ensure that you engage the minds and hearts of the audience from the get-go and make each activity and interaction meaningful so the group feels that they are doing something that has real value and purpose as a group.

A good example of this in action was the company conference we ran for the Insurance Team Hall & Wilcox lawyers in Sydney, which was the first time that the whole team had come together this way for quite some time.

“It was a worthwhile personal and team experience and the surprise activity at the end where we raced around town and put together something meaningful for these children was rewarding.” Matt Curll, Partner, Hall & Wilcox


They chose our Starlight ‘Sparklers’ team building session as they were looking for a session that involved lots of activities that would get their people on their feet, challenge their minds and give them a task that they needed to work in teams to solve. The group took to our creative limerick challenge like natural Irish poets and threw themselves into the ‘Sparkle’ pack toy hamper challenge with much gusto. Thanks to their Partner Matt Curll generously tripling the company’s financial contribution to the toy hamper activity, the four teams in the group put together an incredible tally of twelve ‘Sparkle’ packs.

“I highly recommend reaching out to TBWP and exploring doing a similar session with your team.” Matt Curll, Partner, Hall & Wilcox

 

Another good example of this was the all-staff group gathering for the school, Oran Park Anglican College, that was on their staff’s first day back from the summer holidays and central to their professional development day to kick off the new academic year, which their Principal was looking for something special to set the tone for the term and year ahead to remind them of their mission as educators in their community.

“Thank you for blending the team building with the work of Habitat for Humanity. The two fitted seamlessly.”

Pam Waterhouse, Oran Park Anglican College

The school chose a Habitat for Humanity ‘Australia’ team building session as it tallied with one of their core values for the year – Compassion and the importance in their school of shared humanity, showing understanding of others and treating them with kindness and generosity.

We have run sessions for schools before, but this was the first time that we had such a large group of educators in one room (aka gymnasium) and it wasn’t long before the teachers and other staff got into the groove and their creative skills started to shine. The lego house-building competition particularly brought out their competitive spirit and served to remind them of the exciting opportunities that lay ahead with their students in their journey of learning.

“Our team really loved the experience, which brought them closer together as well as bringing out their competitive spirit.”

Pam Waterhouse, Oran Park Anglican College

These two examples show that the principle of making a conference event special and memorable is as important and effective with a group of corporate lawyers as it is with our nation’s educators.

That’s Team Building with Purpose.

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