Event Design Blog Posts

MPI-CAC Education Program & Networking Event

Posted on: Monday, July 8th, 2013

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On July 10th, 2013 at Navy Pier, the MPI Chicago chapter will be hosting an industry collaboration to discuss trends in meetings and events. Esprit Productions is honored to be in charge of productions for this event.

The event is scheduled to begin with a panel of professionals discussing current industry trends. The second panel will focus on the impact that meeting planners can have on their events. Industry professionals will share their insights, findings, and ideas about what may occur in the short and long-term future. Topics expected to be covered range from technology to marketing.

The main objectives of this MPI Chicago event are to help attendees understand today’s trends and how these may be affecting the meeting and event planning industry. Attendees will walk away with a better grasp and understanding on where this industry is today and where it is heading.

MPI helps industry leaders and professionals know how to accomplish their organization’s objectives by providing a better insight of the trends discussed.

Of course, there will be time after the panels for professionals in this industry to network and meet one another. Networking is a great way to catch up with old friends and make new ones.  MPI will then top off the evening with fireworks, which are synchronized to music, on Lake Michigan.

For more information on this event or to register, please visit MPI Chicago Education Program and Networking Event.

Two Audiences, One Goal: Stand Out

Posted on: Thursday, June 20th, 2013

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Nielsen shares with their clients exclusive insights to help them understand consumers and their behavior by Standing Out in today’s over saturated media world. Nielsen’s clients are broken into two distinct audiences; media executives who determine what people are “watching” and consumer package good executives who determine what people are “buying.”

Their major customer conference Consumer 360 has had these two distinct audiences together for this event for 5 years. Over that time in the post event surveys several people would state that they wanted more content specific to their area of interest. The Nielsen event planning team listened to their customers and designed this year’s agenda based on this input.

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To do this on the first day we cut the general session time from 4 hours to 2 hours and with that extra time the attendees broke off into 2 hour super sessions specific to each area of interest, watch or buy.

Each Super Session began like most breakouts with an overall presentation followed by a panel discussion specific to each subject. Then using Facilitate Pro software which I like to think of as a “digital flip chart.” the moderators and Nielsen employees (one at each table) began typing in the attendees’ ideas on their laptops or iPads. These ideas were organized by categories and sub-categories to help better understand what their customers want.

Attendees were engaged and became active participants during these sessions. In total, over 1,200 ideas were digitally captured and Nielsen intends on taking this input to improve service and innovate their products and services. These beautifully designed sessions helped keep the interest level high and helped Nielsen listen to their clients.
In summary the General Sessions gave the audience a 30,000 foot view of what is going on globally in media, marketing and branding. The Super Session Sessions gave a 15,000 view of what is happening today in both the watch and buy worlds. The Insight Sessions (breakouts), gave “on the ground” real life examples and customer case studies so that when the audience returned home they had the insights and ideas to improve their companies performance to be more successful.

When professionals come together, listen and brainstorm as a group, great things can happen. By listening to their audience’s input from last year we were able to focus on two specific audiences to create one great event.

God is a Great Art Designer

Posted on: Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Higgs Boson Particle

Last month, there was great fanfare about the discovery of the Higgs boson particle which shows why matter has mass. It is also referred to as the “God particle”. This particle is so elusive that only one particle out of one trillion will collide with another in the “atom smasher.” Finding this particle took more than two decades and could be a solid contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This picture of what they discovered shows yellow particles on a blue background. More than twenty-five years ago designers of graphics and slides professed that yellow on blue was very effective when creating slides for presentations. This combination makes it easy for the human eye to read and absorb information. For more information about this amazing finding take a look. For most of us, it will hurt our head!

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/03/higgs_boson_discovery_confirme.html

Face-to-face Interactions vs. Virtual World

Posted on: Thursday, February 28th, 2013

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Over the years, there has been much talk about the benefits and costs of having webinars versus face-to-face meetings. As we have explored in our newsletters and blogs, there is a definite place for each in one’s organization. This week’s decision from Yahoo’s CEO to make all full time employees work from the office has sparked much discussion about people working virtually from home versus going into an office almost every day.

To start, let’s take a look at a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Rachel Emma Silverman called Step Into the Office-Less Company.

The article begins by stating, “Work gets done wherever employees choose, and virtual meetings are conducted on Skype of over Internet chat.” If there are very important questions that need to be answered between these organized meetings, phone calls are essential.” In fact, Esprit operates mainly through conference calls, which are enhanced through WebEx, Microsoft Live or similar software. Many of our clients utilize internal blogs to communicate more directly with the employees that are located separately. If necessary, they are willing to fly someplace to coordinate details and complete a task.

Utilizing an “office-less” company creates a remote workforce, allowing for more talent and a greater selection because they are not limited by geography. With the technology available today, these employees can communicate regularly to stay on task. Companies also save money on real estate costs. At the same time, this expense can be offset and reallocated into travel costs. Within Esprit, many members of the tech team are located in California. Daily communication is used to stay in touch with the projects and the progress being made.

Another benefit to working within a company that is not restrained to office space, is the nonhierarchical management structures that can develop. This allows teams and workers the authority to make their own decisions and complete needed tasks on their own basis, with limited supervision. This freedom from restraints can foster creativity and productivity within these groups, as they are working according to their schedules. Individuals are granted their own hours with contact from team leaders as needed.

However, there are some negative aspects that correlate with an “office-less” company, which are brought up this week by Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer who is no longer permitting Yahoos to work from home. This Yahoo memo is directed towards those individuals who are full-time home employees. She states, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important. So we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.” First, there is a lack of face-to-face interaction and personal contact with other employees when some individuals are working from home offices. Since most of their work will be done through virtual spaces, it may be difficult to develop a bond with one another. It is important to create a cohesive culture with the employees, to ensure that everyone is striving for a common goal. New employees will not grow as much without the personal connections that could be established through a standard office space. It is a fine line for many people to separate home life from work life and it could be hurtful to one area of one’s life if they interfere too frequently. This alteration in company structure for Yahoo will most likely create some turmoil amongst some employees, as some may have to look at relocation or resigning due to the requirement of working in a designated office space.

Ultimately, “being virtual makes everything more convenient.” But, is that the best structure for your company today to achieve its goals? Face-to-face interaction is best for feedback, persuading, encouragement, and recognition.

It goes back to the discussion of having face-to-face meetings versus conference calls. There is a time and place for both. Today’s leaders need to know where and when to be digital and where and when to be face-to-face!

Color Brings Meaning to Your Meeting Space

Posted on: Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Colors surround us in our daily lives and we are constantly influenced by the mood altering affects that colors present. Different colors produce varying mental states and emotions and because of this, selecting a meeting space based on the colors of the walls or the surroundings may impact the deliverance of your main message. State of the art LED lights gives you the ability to change the colors of your space to get your desired look. This website (http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html) examines each color.

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Red, because of it’s intensity, could be helpful for a meeting where attention levels are high and something important needs to be accomplished. The color could heighten the concentration of individuals. Stay away from a red room for discussions with more weight or some kind of debate.

Orange brings out happiness and creativity. For brainstorming, use an orange space to provoke ideas and engagement. Teamwork exercises taking place in an orange room may hold more success than with other colors.

Yellow is a cheerful, invigorating color that increases muscle energy. In this space, make sure to get the audience involved in some kind of activity where they can move around and participate in idea generation. Holding heavy conversations in a yellow room may not be the most effective.

Green is associated with peace, harmony, and safety. For two different groups that may not be seeing eye to eye, having a meeting in a green room may help them solve their differences. Both groups may feel more comfortable in this environment. Honest conversations could take place in this space because people are relaxed.

Dave Calhoun

Blue, showing stability and trust, would be a great color to utilize when the company is faced with a problem. This space will keep the trust behind the company motto and main goal, helping overcome a potential problem. Blue spaces would be great for highly intellectual conversations and future directions.

Siemens

And finally, with it’s connotations to royalty, purple spaces are great when trying to make a great impression on someone. Purple also represents wisdom and creativity. Brainstorming and discussions could be held in this space.

So, next time you are trying to decide which room to hold your meeting or which color to decorate the room, consider the topics that will be discussed and the audience you are working with to get the results you want!

Creating Exceptional Learning Experiences

Posted on: Thursday, October 18th, 2012

 

On August 1st, Ron and I traveled to Kendall College to give a presentation regarding meeting content and creating exceptional learning experiences. The focus of the class was to provide the students with the skills needed to effectively plan and execute the educational content of meetings and events. There are many ways to successfully organize a meeting, but many things need to be taken into account. We explored the idea of exceptional learning experiences and found that this type of experience consists of a process where you are NOT told what we are supposed to learn, but we are lead to a point to discover it ourselves. This process becomes personal to the individual and ultimately develops into an experience.

Looking at this definition, we started by addressing the audience of a meeting. Knowing the audience that is being presented to is one of the most important things in meeting planning. Today’s audiences consist of several generations and without acknowledging this, meeting planners could potentially distract and disinterest many attendees. Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two most prominent generations in the audience, so pleasing both has to be regarded. At the latest Nielsen Consumer 360 Conference, Malcolm Gladwell gave new perspective on the collaboration that needs to exist between older generations and the millennials.

Much can be learned through the neuroscience behind meetings and how to enhance how people feel by making them more comfortable. The four key components that increase relaxation include: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

To create a personal memorable experience for the audience and attendees, many design aspects should be planned for. Beginning before the event, the planner should, again, assess the audience that is being addressed and make the necessary adjustments. The experience of the meeting should be set up similar to preparing the ground for planting. All of the tools are put into place, but it needs the last component to grow to it’s full potential.  On-site at the event provides an opportunity for the plant to continue to grow and flourish as the meeting progresses. During the general session, sensory design considerations support in the advance of the audience’s personal experiences. Featured speakers address the audience and encourage them to apply these concepts into their lives and business.

Each portion of the event (breakouts, entertainment, panel discussions, etc.) and especially post event material, all build up and allow the audience to form this experience in their own way. The overall experience is ultimately their own and what they make of it. This personalization helps the audience feel important and encourages them that the time out of the office was well spent. These different aspects continue to feed the plant as it flourishes.

Five Ways to Go Paperless

Posted on: Thursday, October 11th, 2012

 

A recent Biz Bash article referenced that as companies continuously strive to become more sustainable, new ideas are surfacing on ways to leave less of an impact on the environment. Going “green” is an ongoing trend in the meeting industry as companies strive to become environmentally conscious. What better way to do this than to go paperless? The article, “5 Tips for Hosting a Paperless Conference” provides great insight on how to utilize the readily available technology to replace regularly used items. This will also pay it forward to the company as they save on costs. The author claims, “This shift is not only environmentally friendly, it’s also cheaper (eliminating printing and shipping costs for materials) and facilitates post-event engagement by allowing attendees to save everything on their smartphones (as opposed to printed conference materials that often get thrown away).” By eliminating paper, the company not only saves money, but also attendees gain an advantage; they are able to save things in an accessible location and reflect on the event by referring back to these stored materials.

The first tip to go paperless is to inform the audience of these changes ahead of time, by using QR code technology or websites. Many attendees expect the typical paper route and if something varies, they may be thrown off course. By filling them in on the upcoming alterations, they can download the necessary software or applications and prepare by learning how they work.

Next, create a mobile-friendly website providing the attendees with the information they would have otherwise received via paper schedules. Attendees will be much happier with a website that is simple and easy to read on a mobile device.

Thirdly, provide assistance during the event. Oftentimes, technology does not work the way it should. In order to counteract potential errors, set-up a booth or station so individuals can ask questions and get support if need be. This also helps attendees feel more relaxed knowing that an expert is there to help them just in case.

Displaying QR codes in diverse locations throughout the event will give the attendees another avenue to learn more about the company or the event itself. Each attendee has a specialized name badge with a QR code linking back to their contact information. This is an easy way to start a conversation with one of your colleagues and it is an organized way to keep track of new networking.

Finally, filling out online evaluations is much “greener” than paper copies. This saves time for the attendees and for the company because the collection of information is done immediately.

10 Venues in Chicago

Posted on: Thursday, October 4th, 2012

This article, “10 New Meeting Venues in Chicago” is a great resource for new, hip locations to host your next meeting or get together. Whether you are accommodating a large breakfast meeting or an intimate nighttime dinner, unique venues are presented for the particular occasion. The distinctive style and décor of each spot creates a memorable aura and atmosphere. Check out the slide show and make some bookmarks – you will want to remember these!

 

Keep It Moving Forward

Posted on: Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

When was the last time you watched a television show from the 80’s? The pace of hugely popular shows back then seem excruciatingly slow now. There’s a lot of recapping and plot exposition. How times have changed. Now, television shows are much faster paced and the recapping, if any, takes place before the new program starts in a quick montage burst. The dialogue is snappy, and you have to really pay attention or you might miss a joke of something relevant to the story. Television programming has come to reflect the “hurry up” world we live in. The people behind the scenes creating these shows assume that the audience knows what’s going on and understands the plot.

This increase in speed is important to keep in mind for the next event you plan. You have to keep things moving, energized, and interesting. Of course, as an event planner, you can’t always have influence over each presentation, but there are other things you can do to keep your event flowing.

It is essential to organize the speakers for the general sessions and breakout sessions in a logical order. Oftentimes, meeting planners do not think about the flow of the presentation and the content delivered by each speaker. A detailed communication plan is key. Aligning the speakers’ messages in a way that creates a continuous stream of information that supports and keeps building the message will keep the audience engaged and moving forward. Create net information gain for the audience by providing a foundation with information that is already known, topping that with news insights and ideas.

Also, every conference has some down time where people enjoy taking a break from listening to speakers or participating in an exercise, but that doesn’t mean you can take a break. It’s up to you to keep the meeting  alive and dynamic when there’s a break in the action. Interactive exhibits and activities fostering organic networking are great places to start.

Right Brain Tips for Your Trade Show Booth

Posted on: Thursday, April 12th, 2012

On our Esprit blog and newsletter, we have spent a lot of time talking about how to make all the different facets of your meeting appealing to the right side of people’s brains. Paying attention making your room set up, stage, lighting, colors, and every other aspect to a conference visually appealing can have a huge impact on your event’s overall success.

But what if you aren’t planning a large corporate event, but instead you are planning to have a booth to showcase your company’s products or service at a trade show? Do the same tips apply on a smaller scale? The answer is yes!

When you are planning an event for a large ballroom or meeting room, the key is to make the space feel comfortable and intimate, so people feel close to the speakers, yet not crowded. With a booth at a trade show, you have much less square footage to work with, so the challenge becomes to make your space visually appealing but exhibiting what will be both. Beneficial to your company and the attendees

First piece of advice: less is more. Never clutter up your booth with too much material. It can feel pushy to passers by and clutter is not pleasing to the right side of the brain. Keep your space tidy. Trade shows as a rule can feel cluttered and overwhelming, so a booth that conveys a sense of calmness and organization will stand out

Clear signage is also important and the less is more motto applies here as well. Don’t make it difficult for attendees to figure out what your company does or what you are selling. Like your sign, keep your message simple as well. Use a trade show as an opportunity to focus on one thing or message instead of trying to inundate attendees with multiple ideas and products.

Another great tip is to reach out to attendees before the event. Let them know you’ll be there, what your booth number is if possible, and give them a preview of what you’ll be showcasing. Like the preconference survey we have talked about, ask them their opinions, and ask them to bring them to your booth. It’s a great way to network in advance and people will remember you and seek you out.

Use technology when possible. For larger events, I have used 7 high definition screens side by side to create a social media wall. For a trade show booth, one small hanging high def  screen demonstrating your product or service (with colors that accent the rest of your booth, of course) can be very eye catching.

Every once in awhile, you’ll come across a company at a trade show that shows real innovation. At the 2012 ARF Re: Think Conference Research Now was THE company that set themselves apart. In their booth, they didn’t have materials on display and they didn’t give away pens with their company’s name on it. They did interviews with 14 industry leaders “to gain their thoughts on the future of consumer behavior and the impact of research on their business.” Then the posted all the videos on their YouTube channel. Now, that’s a trade show booth no one’s going to forget!