06 Sep 2016

Beware of The Frankenevent: Don’t let old habits get in the way of a great event

So, you’re organizing an annual event and you begin with last year’s event “template.” You delete the names of all the speakers, the breakout sessions, the keynotes, and the opening and closing events, and you update the date across the top. You begin to re-populate this template with new event descriptions and new speaker names…like you are filling in the blanks on a standardized form. Your awards’ ceremony is always on the last night, so you keep it that way. You’ve always had a guest speaker, so you set out to find the same type of guest speaker yet again. Teambuilding? It’s what you’ve always done—why change things now?

Throughout the past year I’ve been to a number of events like this. Instead of starting with the “outcome” and building out an event as the solution to that desired result, some planners are simply filling in the blanks from last year’s event and hoping for the best. But I can tell you from experience, the best isn’t what you’re going to get. What you are going to get is the “frankenevent”—a pieced together version of what you’ve already done many times before.

It’s easy to do this when time is limited and you have other responsibilities and priorities that are keeping you busy.

So what’s the problem with doing it this way? As Henry Ford so aptly put it: “If you’ve always done what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” So unless you’re looking for the same old results, you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and start treating each event as it should be, a new entity, a new challenge to be solved, a new outcome to be explored.

Consider each event—even if it’s to be repeated yearly, or more than once a year—as an opportunity to create new touch points, to connect with your people in a new way, to engage them, catch them off guard, inspire them and drive them toward action. Otherwise you could be wasting time and money.

Look at the outcome you want to achieve and work backwards from there. Examine your employee’s mindset as you move toward this event, the company objectives, the state of the industry, the economic landscape. Keep all of these changing factors in mind and develop your event accordingly.

Perhaps there are new ways of addressing your objectives, perhaps you don’t need a guest speaker at all, but rather more time for small groups to develop solutions on their own. Maybe you’ll want to deliver your awards right off the bat in different ways to elevate recognition. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the traditional timeslots or to remove timeslots all together. With so much information vying for people’s attention these days, the last thing you want to do is produce an event that’s ordinary or predictable. If you want to capture people’s attention you’ll have to be brave, you’ll have to be bold, if you want to avoid the frankenevent!

Leave a Comment