Top 5 tips for organising a HR event (or any other event to be fair)

You ever gone to an event and felt embarrassed for the MC, lights don’t work, mic cuts out, food isn’t ready, the room is boring, a speaker doesn’t show, the content is soooooo boring you want to stick pencils in your eyes. Your daydreaming turns into fantasy and you start making up scenarios in which you save the entire audience from this sinking ship of an event by crashing the stage and stirring up a storm with an amazing speech that ends with you being carried off to the bar on the shoulders of all the thanks full attendees….. OK that’s an extraverts daydream for the introverts it probably ends with sneaking out the fire exit and retreating to the comfort of your room where you order a diet coke and room service ahhh bliss 😉

But it never fails to amaze me how people or organizers get their audience so wrong. You can feel it in the room if people are not into what you’re selling. The fidgeting starts, the mock cell phone to the ear having to leave to take an oh so important emergency call… prob from their mum.

The organizer say “why did you come to this event if you don’t like the content?” and that’s the wrong question in my opinion. You put something out there that intrigued them. Yet when they got there you failed to deliver on that intrigue, so the real question is where did it go wrong. I would love to see that on the feedback sheets we all get given. Did the event live up to the hype? If not, why not?

Invariably you will always get the one or two that are using it as a day out of the office or and evening away from domestic bliss, and that’s ok but if your loosing more than that then you need to consider where the event started letting people down.

I never thought of myself as an event planner and in real life I’m not. But I do enjoy entertaining people so I always approach an event with the following hypothesis:

“Would this be an event I would want to go to” secondly “Would I recommend this event to a friend afterwards”

If you answer no to the first question – re think the event

If you answer no to the second – deep dive into why not

To save you from answering “no” here are my top 5 tips for avoiding the “no’s”

Treat it like a wedding: the things people remember about weddings are the food and the entertainment and the speeches– we have each of these things at an event!

Food – we all hate waiting in lines for food consider the layout, consider whether people are standing up to eat if so don’t have steak and mash on cardboard plates whilst standing! Have finger food! It might seem so simple but so little attention is paid to the food that the lunch hour /networking session is often just a moaning session which brings everyone down for the afternoon. Give variety; cater to a wide range of tastes if people say wow about your food they will tell others about it! Food does not have to be expensive just well thought out! Remember food is the fuel for the soul! As Tim Sackette @TimSackett about his food experience in Cayman, or see it on his twitter feed….

Ultimate-Super-Bowl-Snack-Spread-copy

Speeches/entertainment – the father of the bride speech is always one of two things a rave review or totally rubbish very rarely are they “meh” so pick your speakers well. Don’t roll out the same old topics that people have heard before unless it’s revolutionary and funny. People came because they want to be entertained so if you have an uncharismatic speaker that doesn’t engage or at least make people laugh a few times forget it. Pick you speakers with the mantra would I listen to them, would I enjoy listening to them again… the second part is key!

Undersell over deliver – Again using the wedding analogy the weddings that your constantly told are going to be the wedding of the century are normally the biggest let down. Sometimes the best part of weddings is that little unplanned all night session that took pace the night before! If you’re able to wow people with the food and venue giving them more than they expected they are already buzzed. Throw in some amazing speeches and now you have yourself an event!

Don’t take it too seriously – The main thing is that events are normally taking place with a group that has an interest in that particular subject – have fun with that subject have fun with them its not a them and us thing. Make them feel a true part of the event.

And this is the 6th secret tip – be as original as you can but remember you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. There is always an expectation level, manage it, do your own thing and if it works – lather rinse repeat!

My upcoming events are #DisruptHRSMB and Cayman Islands HR Conference 2016

Both in May 2016 – watch this space for more info hopefully they will be events you want to attend and will recommend to others afterwards!

Life’s too short to go to dull events! 🙂

Advertisements

“A cure for Sunday-itis” TEDx Talk done !!!

A cure for Sunday-it is!

TEDx Talk Bucket list done!!!

This week I did something that’s been on my bucket list since I saw my first TED talk a few years ago. There had been a few ideas bubbling up but this one seemed to catch the attention of the TEDx planning committee on the application.

For those who have yet to fill in a TED application form they are a load of fun! They take some time and require some thought but they are designed to look for something different so you cant cheat them!

Below is the outline of the talk I wrote but what I presented was very different to this and in a very different style. However it did give the cure for Sunday-it is!

TED.com will release the final video but the live stream version is still live at the time of publishing this and you can see it at TEDxsevenmilebeach.com watch online. I present at 2hrs 53.

I hope you enjoy it!

“I hate my job”

I admitted that to myself on a Monday morning sometime in the middle of 2006.

I had Sunayitis – do you know what Sundayitis is?

Well I’m sure there is a medical term for it but I call it “ The absolute dread of going to work on Monday” The feeling that what I am going to do tomorrow is going to sap the life from me.

I would have this internal dialogue with myself about all the ways I could get out of going to work tomorrow. I could be sick, I could arrange a meeting that would allow me a little longer lay in. Seriously this thought process would start as early as midday on the Sunday!

But why? I had been in the same field of work for 5+ years, I had been promoted, I ran teams and as my wife said “I was good at it!”

So why was I trying to not go and do something I was good at?

Eventually this Sundayitis became so severe that I had to do something, look for a way out change my career, because it became all-consuming. The inner dialogue was turning into a full on conversation on an almost daily basis

“Your back here again, you think that guy is a jerk, you haven’t done anything about this, your not going to do anything about this…”

So I had to make it stop!

This is where everyone needs that friend, mum , wife or person who is not going to put up with you whining and simply say.

“Its your life change it”.

Now that’s easier said than done, financial burdens are ever present and I wasn’t in a situation where I could just give up a good job. I had a mortgage, student loans and a passion for food, wine and fun!

My wife repeated the phrase why do you hate something your so good at? But this time I heard her….

We often listen but don’t hear, and significant people in our lives often give us great nuggets and we can miss them and I wish I had heard her the first time she asked this because it was the catalyst for me to shut up that internal dialogue.

OK – So I hate my job – but do I really hate my job or do I hate something else and it just relates to my job?

Hate is such a strong word but if you have ever suffered sundayitis it’s the only word that seem to be able to help define that anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach when you really don’t want to do something but know you have to do it.

I evaluated my job – and came to the following conclusions:

1 – I liked how I made people feel (I got them jobs!)

2- I liked helping people

3- I did make a difference

4- I needed more

Now it was point 4 that really got me excited, ok ok now I know I need more, fantastic I don’t hate my colleagues or my company I just need more….

Problem is I haven’t a clue what more meant…but I did know it had to be somewhere else. I had become so used to the bubble in which I lived that I hadn’t noticed that I had outgrown my bubble.

My bubble was defined by – my gym, my shops, my friends, my house, my environment it was all so safe, I needed an adventure.

The reason I was excited was that my “Spidey sense” was in full gear telling me this was going to happen. I just didn’t know when or how it would happen. So My wife and I started making plans, with no idea how, where or why we would do these things they were just plans, dreams, paths to follow.

We started by looking at selling our house and buying some property in Spain… we even took a trip there three times looking at property trying to figure it out.

But then the universe made something happen. I got a phone call about a job in Bermuda….. WOW …. Adventure has come knocking at my door!

SO now its serious, we have a path laid out in front of us that could lead to something amazing…. So I had to ask Kym the question do you really want to do this? The reason I asked her was that my spidey sense was screaming that this was the thing for us to do, this was the right path, I would love my job doing somewhere exciting. So I asked her…. “Are you sure about going to Bermuda because if I go for this I am going to get it…”

Her response – “Where’s Bermuda”……

Two weeks later we were on a plane to Bermuda to go look – we rented our house and moved there less than one month after that trip.

We took a chance, we followed the Bermuda path

My gut had told me change was coming because I knew I needed change, but “spidey sense” had said look out for it because its there….

All through my career I have been listening to my spidey sense I just didn’t know it. My gut would tell me if this was going to be a great client meeting or if this project wasn’t going to work. Subconsciously I had changed the projects/meetings/events so that they worked.

This became even more transparent after we left Bermuda to return home.

Kym had a great job with John Lewis in the UK I was back inside my bubble and realize that for me it was a mistake to come back to the safety net of my bubble because it hadn’t grown but I had so now it was even more constrictive. I had traveled live in a different country met amazing people had actual stories to tell. Yet I was back – reverted to type – reverted to the same work in the same area with a lot of the same people which kept on saying why did you come back? I knew it was a mistake when I couldn’t answer them. I even turned down several options including working in the Cayman islands because Kym was happy so now I would allow her to follow her dream.

Whilst we were back one of my best friends wife at 34 died within 18months of being diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Around 2 weeks after the funeral Kym and I were sat in a pub on her 39th birthday and she said to me why are we not in the Cayman Islands? You see I had been so caught up in allowing her to follow what I thought was her dream that I never asked her if this was what she wanted. All the time her gut was telling her she was not going to turn 40 living in Birmingham. The death of a friend so young crystalized both our spidey senses and the next day I called back a man named Steve McIntosh who had asked if I would come to the Cayman Islands and inside of a week was on a plane to check it out.

That was 4 years ago.

I want to leave you with a final story that really emphasizes the importance of listening to your spidey sense

In September last year I was approached about going on a trip to Guatemala, from the moment this was mentioned that voice/feeling in my gut said yes, yup your going to do this and its going to be epic.

The trip was part of a program called the Guatemala Literacy Project (GLP) it’s a program that allows you to sponsor a child to go to school. To help break the cycle of poverty through education.

One of my friends who had done this trip before advised me to sponsor a child before I go as I would get to met them and their family when I was there and it would be an amazing experience. So for $70 a month I did.

That trip showed me what human beings can endure, how the human spirit can get through adversity, but more importantly it put my path through life on a path that affected someone else’s in a dramatic way. I returned having sponsored a second child knowing that the difference I had played in their lives was huge even though to me it was a small amount of money every month.

I had found my something more, through travel, adventure, charity and I have connected my spidey sense with real life. I’ve learnt to listen to that internal monologue and act on it.

I’m doing the same job I’ve been doing for 15+ years and I love it.

Stop using the internet to analyze every decision, use your gut instinct it will never let you down if you truly listen. Don’t miss a path lay the path as you go!