The power of imagination making your people feel special
We’ve talked a lot recently about Reward and Recognition events and the power of moments and emotion. We wanted to share with you a few of our favourite standalone events that really stretched the boundaries in terms of imagination, ingenuity and surprise. These were events that went far beyond the usual annual dinner. They were not about the company and how well it’s doing. These were events to celebrate the people – the powerhouse of any organisation – as a whole, as teams and as individuals. You could say this is a form of recognition but in a way that democratises that recognition and uses the element of surprise to make everyone feel special and valued.
An event within an event
This was sneakiness at its very best. At the RSVP stage, we asked each guest for their shoe size. That in itself created quite the buzz around the company. Why did we need to know? Was it bowling? Ice skating, maybe? They were guessing all sorts but nobody even got close. We continued with the pretence that it was a very traditional black tie event. Everyone arrived dressed in their best, sat down and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. Then we said, we are taking you outside for a firework display. Underneath your seat is a pair of wellies. There was that buzz again as the penny dropped – so that’s why you needed my shoe size. So, everyone went outside in their wellies and watched the fireworks. It was spectacular and if that alone had been the surprise, it would have been enjoyed and appreciated. But, and it’s a big but, the fireworks were just the beginning…
The last firework went off and it went dark and quiet. Everyone’s ready to go back indoors. Then the drumming started. A festooned walkway lit up. Everybody was puzzled, not a clue what was happening, but followed the lights and the sound of drumming. There, at the end, was a secret festival. We’re talking tepees, festival stages, silent discos, face paints, dancing, festival foods, drinks, everything you can think of. We even had those special ball gown clips to keep the designer dresses up out of the mud so everyone could get stuck into the fun. It turned the night completely on its head. It was so unexpected it blew everyone away. We still remember people in black tie, dicky bows all twisted, covered in neon face paint. They were having the best night of their lives – and they felt special, knowing that the company valued them enough to do all of this to say thank you.
An edible forest
One of our absolute standout moments (some of us have a very sweet tooth). This was an event where we flipped everything on its head. It started as a normal dinner until, after the main course, a secret, fantastical forest was unveiled. Guests were invited to walk through it, only to discover that the forest was edible and this was their dessert. We had trees with hanging toffee apples, chocolate toadstools, edible flowers, cheesecakes, a stream, and magical woodland creatures that helped navigate people through the forest and all its edible delights. You would never believe how much edible forestry 300 people can get through! The best thing though was that it was so totally unexpected. It became a talking point long after the event and, again, created a warm, fuzzy feeling of being valued.
Putting on a show
This was a company’s 30th birthday and they wanted to put on a big event – something that would be talked about until the next one and would make people feel good. They didn’t want it to be about the company but about its people and everything they had done to get the company to its 30 year milestone. It had to be about them. We thrashed through all sorts of ideas but in the end, we rented a giant arena and put on a show where the people themselves became the headline act.
We ran a campaign beforehand, asking people to send in videos of themselves lip syncing, dancing, singing, you name it – whatever their special talent was. We then brought in performance coaches and a band to get them ready for their performance on the night. In came hair, make up, costumes, the full shebang. We created videos for them that were up on the screen behind, and they took over the night. And the best bit? Seeing thousands of people there, all celebrating and championing each other. The whole night was about the people.
Let’s not forget remote events
It’s easy for us to highlight these one off, in-person spectaculars but it’s a much bigger challenge when we tackle remote events or global brands that want to bring their different locations together. You can’t have an edible forest so you just have to get a little bit more creative. There are all sorts of ways to connect with people and make them feel special if you just use a bit of imagination. We did one session for a global client with a lot of satellite offices that didn’t really know each other. We asked everyone to come along with something that represented them – who they are, something that means something to them or about them. We were astounded by the things people brought along and, more importantly, so were they. One person turned up with a real, live goat that sat on their lap. They lived on a farm and the goat was a big part of their life. The items people brought were fantastic conversation starters. Everyone began talking and got to know each other a lot better. They felt connected in a way that they hadn’t before. And, long after the event, people still think of their globally-dispersed colleagues in relation to the item they brought to that session.
Don’t be afraid to be different
The two important themes that shine through in all these events are celebrating your people, and pushing the boundaries of your imagination to do so. Make your people feel really special by thinking beyond the ordinary. Let them know you value them so much that you are prepared to spend time and brain power coming up with something completely different just for them. If you need help to create something totally unexpected for your next event, give us a call or drop us a DM. We are simply bursting with ideas.
experts in imagination
At simply better, we use psychology alongside some stunning creative thinking to design and deliver outstanding events. Each one is unique, designed to inspire and create significant, long term behavioural change. Check out our knowledge hub for ideas, inspiration and expert advice on delivering ingenious events and unconventional conventions. If we’ve sparked your interest, call us for a chat or drop us a DM about your next event – and check out our webinar for even more fantastic inspiration.