In a previous article all about the preparation process for a global leadership conference, we asked the question, ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ It seemed fitting, to share what actually happened. Plus of course, we share what went so well and why.
We always try and make sure it happens but for a variety of reasons often leaders are reluctant or unable to do a full rehearsal. Not in this case. Every executive featured in the main sessions, put in quality rehearsal time. Fabulously supported by the technical crew from the event production partners. It was especially valuable because the room layout meant this meeting was conducted with a stage in the middle of the room.
Different and brilliant!
Yes, the unexpected happened. Of course it did. A senior executive was unable to be present for one day and so others stepped in, slides were adjusted, scripts re-written and all of it achieved calmly and in good time.
The key is not focus on why it has gone wrong or worse, who is at fault. The key is to work together to fix whatever it was. An experienced team, as was the case at this event, will have the knowledge as to what can be done in time to fix any issue that comes up and the skills to make that solution happen.
Keep to Time
The efficient movement of 240 delegates around breakout spaces, lunch, external trips was no picnic, but nothing was dropped and the biggest overrun was 15 mins, which we gradually caught up through the day. Result!
It helps to have someone assigned to oversee timings and even better if this person has the knowledge about the event to decide, in the moment, if a section needs cutting or where time can be made up without damaging the integrity of the whole agenda design.
In the moment.
It was a long week for the global delegates, but they really did stay incredibly engaged throughout. This is down to a combination of factors one of which is the positive culture this organisation has in the first place. It was also down to a very well considered agenda, fiercely protected reflection time and of course – high energy facilitators!
There were one or two minor tensions in the week about what could be done when and by who, but the pressure to flex to meet the inevitable changing requirements often falls to the venue team. An event can quickly fall apart if they are not willing to help you out when needed. Building good relationships with this team, keeping them informed as things change and be willing to get stuck in when required all creates an atmosphere of collaboration and willingness to help.
We said last week that provided the team could work well together, you could pretty much solve anything and that proved to be the case.
The world-class Core Design team from Purple Monster and the client.
Teamwork really is the story here and it’s worth mentioning why our relationship with this particular client and the two individuals we work most closely with, is so special, we hope from their side as well as ours.
First, they are willing to place their trust in us, even when we are pushing the creative boundaries. They understand that the hours spent in detailed design, creates a seamless conference with both a logical and emotional flow.
They are willing to engage in difficult conversations to get everyone on board – this in the face of knowing that the financial management as well as the delegate experience will all come down to them. If the conference is a success, they will be thanked for doing their job. If it’s a failure, the buck stops with them. Despite this obvious pressure, we always know we have their full support.
Everyone played their part in full and probably the most obvious expression of this was the creation of the ‘world bazaar’ exhibition. For logistical reasons, there was a very short window of an hour to transform 15 ‘booths’ from shell form, to fully stocked displays from around the globe, each with its own unique story and regional flavour. We would love to be able to share a time-lapse film of the set-up, but nobody had enough time on their hands to be filming.
It was not just the speed with which the whole thing was assembled that stood out, nor was it the fact that simply everybody (and we mean everybody) pitched in. It was more that it was done with such good grace; with fun, collaboration, sharing tools and know-how and mostly, well, sweat really.
There were so many highlights to the conference. Hayley Rushing from The Purpose Institute being one of the many inspirational speakers, although the only external one on this occasion. We’re not at liberty to share what was spoken about, but what we can share is the part we see as mostly our responsibility – the engagement of the audience and the tone and style of the meeting.
The wonderful setting certainly helped; the bold and creative design of the main stage; the informal and fun tone established by the Chair and CEO; the commitment to the theme of music alongside the quality and thoughtful presentation of content – all of these things helped the engagement. We did our bit too and to finish, here’s some feedback we received over the weekend.
You are amazing at what you do, have formed great relationships with the organization and have built amazing trust and comfort so that people can really be themselves. Bravo!
You guys were simply awesome. Both in the weeks and months leading up to the meeting and in the moment.