Collaborating with the Timewise and One West Event Design, FMAV wanted to create an immersive experience that would welcome and accommodate high calibre speakers and keynotes. While also providing a warm welcoming space that encouraged networking and conversation.
The designing of the main room (the Process)
The team (FMAV & Timewise) met in the Edmonton office to align and frame the event towards creating a narrative to explain the value it represents to its various stakeholders.
The first step was a Stakeholder Alignment Exercise (more details can be found here). From the exercise the team identified the high impact stakeholders that would provide a high return on investment, if the design was focused on them.
The team then took those key stakeholders, and performed a Rapid Empathy Exercise. They mapped out a statement each stakeholder would make before the event, as well as a statement for after the event. These statements helped to understand the change in behaviour the event would create. It also contributed to articulating the events value further.
We then dug a little deeper into each stakeholder. The team wanted to understand the level of experience the stakeholders wanted. We asked the question, on a scale of 1-10 where would the stakeholder sit?
1= simple and accessible 10= highly experiential/disruptive.
Then we performed a Presenter Intimacy Matrix, with one axis being up on a “Rockstar” i.e. up on pedestal, inaccessible, star power. Vs “Best Friend” intimate, reach out and touch them, like best friends sharing a coffee, being close to and getting to associate with the presenter.
What’s the Vibe? We listed words that speak to the feeling at the event.
From that activity and information, we identified our event narrative which was:
‘Go West offers event professionals in Western Canada the opportunity to come together to make meaningful connections, educate, elevate, and engage within a community. Presenting the Western Canadian region as brave thought leaders, actively embracing innovation. Leading the industry with smart, effective event design.’
Additionally, the goal for the producers was to grow the events stature, exposé, attendance and educational impact.
Achieving the narrative
To achieve this narrative we applied several design strategies in the main room, firstly we manipulated the shape to break the standard rectangular box. Creating a triangular shape with video screens and impactful draping. The shape served two purposes, firstly to focus attention on the main stage, and secondly, to envelope the audience as if the screens and drape were arms embracing them.
To reinvent the stage experience and to compliment the shape of the room, FMAV designed a diamond shaped stage allowing audience members closer access to the presenters while keeping the stage height above 36” in order to give the presenters an air of rock stardom.
Utilizing FMAV’s GeoMod Stage Set solution, we designed a maple leaf referencing our proud Canadian heritage. OneWest Event Design came to the party with mixed seating arrangements. Strategically placed to encourage attendees to interact with each other and connect with content and conversation outside of the onstage presentations.
To add to the sense of audience intimacy, FMAV designed a rigging plot that had truss lines raking down towards the back of the room creating lower ceiling, bringing an intimate mood to the audience area while keeping the main stage theatrical.
To accentuate the rake of the truss, tiered seating was installed at the back of the room, allowing attendees to get a higher vantage point, creating a unique experience.
Some small subtle technology choices were made to enable and enhance the attendee’s connection to the presenters. For example a robotic camera was positioned at the back corner of the stage near the presenter’s entry point, it allowed for a reverse angle shot capturing the presenters entering and exit from the stage. The shot choice in essence ‘broke the 4th wall’ showing the audience a part of the backstage experience of which most attendees are very familiar. It both humanized and energized the arrival and departure of each presenter.
The IMAG screens were portrait orientated to allow for a full body shot making the presenter 16’ high, enhancing the gravitas and feeding that ‘rock star’ esthetic.
All of this came together to achieve the event narrative with great effect. Allowing Timewise, FMAV, and OneWest Event Design to contribute in our own ways to create community, foster innovation and show our pride of Western Canada.
If you would like to replicate this success at your event and design amazing experiences for your audience, connect with us now!
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FMAV’s Year in Review
Taking a look back on a fantastic year of events that made up 2019. Thank you for being part of our journey.
Webinars are a great way to host, engage and deliver content to remote audiences. Whether you run internal webinars, client webinars, or both, here are some best practices that will make your delivery process more audience-friendly and productive.
Have a Strategy
At the very beginning of the webinar process, outline the key purpose of hosting this webinar and what you and your team hope to achieve by delivering it. Then cater a powerful topic headline and supporting points that enhance what you are trying to achieve. Aligning on a strategy pre-presentation will help guide your content and delivery to funnel back a more influential delivery.
Additionally, have a post-event follow up strategy or action plan is a great way to maximize your objective. If the objective was to generate leads, create a post-webinar engagement strategy on how and when you are going to follow up with your attendees. If your objective was more educational, Build reminders to support the retention and application of the information delivered.
Set up in advance. It is good practice to begin setting up your webinar at least 30 minutes before you go live. Based on the profile of your webinar you may even want to consider setting up hours in advance, doing so ensures you begin on time. Be sure to turn off device notification sounds, mute laptop speakers, and close any open programs that are not applicable to your webinar.
Account for technical difficulties. Technology has come a long way, but technical difficulties still frequently occur. Testing your equipment and software before you begin broadcasting avoids keeping your audience waiting, and that you are courteous of their time. If you will be recording the webinar for future playback, test the recording function to ensure the content is in-fact being recorded. Testing the connection, sound quality, and platform functionality with coworkers before going live, can help you become more comfortable, and efficient when you are ready to begin. Make sure your laptop is connected to a charger to avoid pop-up disruption or an unexpected ending.
Choose an appropriate location. A quiet, enclosed boardroom works ideal for a clean, focused webinar delivery. If you are delivering from a large room, however, be sure to have the appropriate technical equipment, such as a dedicated microphone, a focused camera with live feed capabilities, and noise cancelling capabilities to account for background noises. Avoid public places where possible, as it becomes difficult to control surrounding elements. If you are presenting from a room, it’s a good idea to let your group know and put a do not disturb sign up to mitigate disruptions.
Rehearse your content. Know what you are going to say and be confident on your topic. That begins with practicing and rehearsing your webinar before delivery. Have a dialogue guideline that directs the impression and lessons you want the viewer to absorb, but try to avoid reading word for word. If you did not build the slide deck yourself, acquaint yourself with the lead pages, graphics, and existing content so you may expand effectively on what is being shown. Having a printed version of the presentation is a great back up option. Presenting hands-free allows you to be more comfortable and engaging.
Prepare for questions. It’s always a great practice to have some time for question and answer at the end of your webinar, this allows your audience to interact and clarify any aspects presented. Based on the number of viewers you may want to have a few of your own questions prepared. Ask a co-worker to chime in and to submit the questions to build and elicit dialogue. Think of questions that create dialogue around your webinar objective.
Choose the Right Platform
Allows you to cast your webinar to 1000 attendees per presentation, and is ideal for larger audiences. It has the ability to interact with your audience through polls and group discussions. You are also able to host multiple presenters at the same time which is great for topic interviews, collaboration, and scenarios with multiple presenters.
Webex is a simple platform that reaches large audiences up to 3000. The viewer must install the program onto their device to begin participation. Webex is ideal if you are just looking to stream a single presenter, without audience collaboration.
Preparing and delivering a webinar involves a lot of work. If you are able to create habits based on the guidelines in this article, you will be set for success in the next online conference you produce.
Event producer and industry speaker Tahira Endean is the author of Intentional Event Design. An inductee to the Meetings Canada Hall of Fame and one of the Convention Industry Council’s #CMP30 Influencers, she spoke with FMAV’s Alissa Hurley about the positive effects of intentional meeting design.
Intentional event design means shaping the event experience mindfully, instead of going ahead with uninspired or standard practices, simply out of a feeling of obligation. An intentional design starts with the big picture, and every detail of the event serves the needs of exhibitors and attendees alike.
Focus on wellness
The meeting and conference experience can be tiring for everyone involved. With “beige” foods and limited room for resting and napping, people aren’t generally well cared for. Endean believes leaders should take a holistic approach to wellness, and it has to start from the top.
Big, noisy rooms with concrete floors, no food or lunch time available, and a lack of places for people to meet and talk. These are some of the hallmarks of non-intentional event design, for conferences that are just surviving instead of thriving. When attendees get tired and just have to walk past dozens of booths, they won’t want to stop and interact. Then, exhibitors will have fewer good conversations, leading to weak lead generation.
People-centric design means understanding what state people will be in, and what they’re going through. What are their needs? Endean recommends empathy mapping, determining what needs to happen for people to leave an event feeling upbeat and optimistic. This process demands energy, but is worth it.
Make purpose-driven design decisions
Organizers should create events with clear goals and objectives in mind, and create trust in all their connections. Sponsors, planners and suppliers all need to understand and trust one another’s thinking. This, in turn, will gain the trust of attendees, and hopefully bring them back year after year.
Endean noted that close partnerships between planners and suppliers, with a strong undercurrent of trust, can have amazing results. When suppliers feel like partners in the event’s success, they can put their planning acumen to work and get organizers the effects and experiences they’re after. Endean described her success organizing amazing acrobatic setpieces for two conferences, work that required trust from the supplier of tech and personnel.
Design of space should be “people-centric,” working to calm attendees’ anxieties and provide a variety of experiences. There should be a natural flow from doorways to registration, into the hall and on to meeting and sessions rooms. Restrooms and food areas should also be strategically placed.
When it comes to seating arrangements that will get people to interact, Endean is vehemently opposed to five- and six-foot tables. Smaller, round tables that seat six or fewer are better for encouraging conversation among four to five people.
Budgets are limited, but fortunately, people-centric design can be carried out affordably. In fact, venues often have alternative assets available, from linens to seating. It pays for planners to ask venue managers about lesser-used items, which could shake up staid floor plans and encourage spontaneous conversation and networking between guests.
Embrace technology for the digital age
Webinar attendees were polled on their feelings on technology, and made it clear that they are more comfortable than not: 5 percent find tech overwhelming, and 34 percent are totally at ease with it. That leaves 61 percent in the middle, somewhat comfortable with tech. It’s clear that IT can have a positive effect on event performance and experience, and has plenty to contribute to intentional design.
Endean discussed a few tech trends currently determining how events are set up and planned:
Customer data can improve relationships with exhibitors. Before buying booth space, companies want to know if their ideal customers will be attending the event. Planners are now equipped to discern and shape audience interest more than ever.
Heat mapping means organizers can scramble to redesign their floor plans on day two if a particular area of the hall was overlooked on day one. Furthermore, tracking the flow of foot traffic allows organizers to push back when exhibitors claim their booths didn’t see enough visitors.
Photography is ubiquitous. Planners must cover up any areas that would look bad in photos, and create visually arresting experiences that attendees will take pictures of and post online, raising the event’s profile.
Lighting has strong psychological effects. For instance, blue fuels creative thinking. Working closely with trusted lightning designers lets organizers shape their environment with lights.
Virtual connections can link speakers and contributors from around the world. Since planners already have video projection recording setups in many cases, adding remote presenters via Skype adds virtually no cost.
With the right combination of design smarts and technology deployment, planners can create events that will draw exhibitors and attendees back year after year.
Click here, to watch the webinar replay.
Is your corporate event truly “not to be missed”? Does it have a strong message at its centre, or is it just another blip on an attendee’s busy calendar? You could have the most innovative technology, thoughtful layout, and stunning venue, but at the end of the day, what is your event really about? The presence of an impactful message could help bring an event together and stoke attendee interest. The idea behind a corporate gathering is its guiding principle and can help with every step from planning through execution.
Perhaps the simplest argument in favor of developing an impactful central message involves thinking about how you would feel about an event without such a backbone, either as an organizer or an attendee. How would a marketer convince people to pay for tickets and airfare to a vaguely defined convention? How could a potential guest speaker sell his or her attendance to the managers who will have to sign off on the travel?
Stand out in a busy world
Today’s event industry is saturated with events across sectors, and an impactful message can rise above the din. While having a central theme to organize the content of a conference around and guide marketing is certainly a positive factor, the value of a central event theme can make its presence felt long before that.
Skift explained that the meeting and conference industry is booming today. More companies are hosting events, and prices for related services such as venue rentals are going up. Companies, however, may fail to increase their event budgets in line with these increases.
When a conference appears to be just a matter of logistics, a simple blip on a corporate calendar, it can be hard for planners to get the funds they need to host a successful gathering. If you’ve encountered this level of resistance from higher-ups, it may be because there isn’t a strong central idea guiding your plans.
Christy Lamagna, founder of Strategic Meetings and Events, told Skift that meeting professionals need to state the strategic value of their conferences. When a meeting is a strategic investment on behalf of a company, it’s much easier to justify giving that event the budget it needs and deserves.
Objectives in focus
Engaging with attendees and getting them focused on a central syllabus has become a defining trend in recent years, according to respondents to American Express’s industry survey with projections for 2018. Meetings, conferences and other gatherings are becoming more focused on spreading their central messages, and that may mean booking venues for shorter spans of time and keeping programs more focused.
If conferences are being cut down to their central points, that means those events have to have strong pillars to support their relevance. Creating a meaningful and positive experience for your attendees is how you’ll get them back for the next conference, and if you have a shorter, more focused program to work with, the strength, relevance and impact of that message becomes more important than ever.
What will the takeaway be when guests head home from the conference? When there’s a strong central message informing everything from presentation topics to design decisions, it’s easier to control this variable than in a wide-ranging or disorganized event. Follow-up marketing and attempts to create a continuing connection with attendees can excel more when an event stayed on topic.
Technology creates a connection
As technology tools have become more central to successful event hosting in recent years, they have found their way into the planning process. When you embrace event technology integration and have a strong message to convey, it’s possible to create an efficient way to reinforce the core concepts and send attendees home with the right takeaways.
Trade Show News Network contributor Rebecca May explained that while some organizers see technology as a distancing factor, something that may distract attendees from the central message of an event, it’s actually a great way to personalize the experience and bring the key concepts down to a manageable level.
May stated that the right technology for a given event will involve systems that reflect the company’s story and branding. The goals of the event, the central idea, comes across clearly when attendees have access to products they like to interact with. May added that sometimes the best way to forge a bond with guests is to go straight to advanced and cutting-edge solutions. Holograms, virtual reality and more can give users strong memories of an event.
What’s it all about?
Events that have a strong, memorable idea at their heart are easier to plan, as organizers can make decisions based on whether they suit the theme. These conferences also stand a better chance of catching the attention of attendees who are inundated with conference options today. After the events, those guests will take a strong impression home with them. For all these reasons, it’s important to pick a message early on and stick with it.
You’ve got space, attendees, and topics to be covered, but how can you ensure your event has an interesting theme? Outside of the logistical and informational process, having a catchy general theme can make or break your event, and add more excitement and cohesiveness to the overall intent. We’re here to get you thinking about how you can implement creative themes for corporate events. With these suggestions, we hope we get the ball rolling for you – you’ll have so many ideas you won’t be able to choose!
If your general intent of the event revolves largely around team building, team relationships, building growth, establishing foundations or expanding on development, having a theme of construction is quite fitting and fun. While it may take away from the formality of an event, adding some playfulness to your gathering is a great way to ease tension and break the ice. Ideas include having Lego pieces at each table where teams can work together to construct an item within a certain time frame. Attendees can be given hard hats to wear, and those leading the event can be in reflective gear. For added emphasis, caution tape can be used to decorate and signage can be put up as well. A takeaway can be a pylon paperweight with the conference name printed on it. How’s that for a fun and creative theme for a corporate event?!
For events that are more strategic and think-tank based, having a Rubik’s Cube-themed event is fun and smile-inducing. Everyone knows the challenge that a Rubik’s Cube poses, and the subtle yet apparent display will set the tone, ensuring your attendees understand that, while a seemingly difficult task lies ahead, there are multiple solutions available. Teams can be grouped by colour, where t-shirts, hats, and/or table covers signify their decided colour. An initial team-building and ice-breaking activity can be for each team to solve a Rubik’s Cube in a certain time frame. Coloured Jell-O can be served to corresponding team colours, and the takeaway can, naturally, be a Rubik’s Cube.
Having a theme centered around survival is great for events that are for strategic thinking, new ideas, determining how to get the most value for cost, finding new resources, or generating creative ideas for business development. Creating the idea that your team is stranded on a desert island or lost in the wilderness can really set the tone for your intention. Again, teams can be divided up and each can be given a specific “tool” that will help them in their survival. Team names can correspond to trees or desert plants, and a reward system can be put in place for the team that advances farthest in strategy planning (a drink of water from the oasis or a berry plant being found). Takeaways can be theme inspired notebooks or a pen that works in unfavourable weather conditions.
While attending corporate events can be somewhat tiresome, ensuring your attendees have a great time while staying on point is key. Creative themes for corporate events are the best way to keep everyone happy, and make the event memorable. Contact us today for help planning your next event.