Employee events can be incredibly powerful. They stimulate inspiration, motivation and action.
They can make internal communication fun, personal and relevant, and they create a sense of involvement. They can spark meaningful dialogue. Plus, events make it easier for employees to get to know and trust senior managers, because they’re seeing their leaders in action.
Internal events can be useful when reviewing an organization’s culture and preferred behaviors, and when assessing internal brand values. For attendees, events are a fantastic opportunity to meet colleagues, explore new possibilities, become inspired, and receive information, resources and ideas.
Here are some ways to make the most of your internal events:
1. Define your required outputs. Consider how your objectives link to business goals. This will help you measure the event’s success. Be sure you know why you’re holding the event and what you want people to do as a result.
2. Involve employees in setting the agenda and format. Encourage ownership and buy-in early on. Recruit and make the most of event ambassadors at all levels, including leadership. Early support-particularly from managers-is vital. You could even recruit a team to manage specific event elements. These team members will help spark interest and excitement among colleagues as the day approaches.
3. Encourage input. Ask employees what they want—discover what inspires and energizes them, and consider how you can tailor the event to your audience. If you’re running different activities, ask employees to vote on their preferences. Keep the survey simple—pose only a few questions—and use a basic tool like SurveyMonkey.
4. Recruit employees as hosts or facilitators. Assign employees specific responsibilities so they contribute directly to the event’s success. Attendees will enjoy seeing their peers help out, and it’s a great way to bridge the gap between employees and management.
5. Set a date and time. Are you hosting a lunch event or an all-day affair? How does your event fit into weekly schedules and ongoing commitments? Can you combine the event with year-end announcements or key performance updates?
6. Pick a venue and theme. Where should the event be? Are there suitable facilities in-house, or do you want a change of scenery in an external setting? If you’re going off campus, choose a location that reflects your brand and event theme. Give your event an interesting and intriguing title.
7. Create signage and collateral. Determine your event’s overall look and feel. This includes ensuring promotional material, signage and collateral are suitably branded and complementary. Keep in mind that your graphics or marketing team may want to approve key materials.
8. Build buzz. Consider ways to build excitement as the day draws near. A thorough marketing plan that includes several approaches (interesting visual advertising, videos, quirky newsletter messages and personal invitations) can bolster interest and engagement. Many people like to use a visual countdown as major events approach.
9. Design a social media plan. Most successful events have a strong social media strategy behind them. Internal events can always benefit from early conversations. This is a great job to entrust to an employee or small team. Have someone share updates on the day of the event, and encourage employees from all departments to contribute.
10. Provide a memento. Create lasting memories of your events. Compile a collection of key findings, session summaries and images from the day. You could print everything or create an interactive e-book to send to attendees.
11. Keep conversations alive. Did any overriding themes emerge? How can you keep these conversations alive? Consider hosting regular group meetings, publishing employee interviews in the newsletter or on the intranet, setting up a group of supporters or planning a follow-up event.
12. Measure success. What was the outcome? How did the event influence employee behavior? What does your feedback tell you? What can you learn from it? This key stage will help you assess how the event performed against its objectives, as well as what you can learn to ensure that future events succeed.
Create your event with the intent of making employees feel that they are part of something special. You want them to feel informed, excited and inspired. Most important, to make sure your event achieves your intended outcome, focus on understanding your objectives, planning ahead and recruiting support.
How do you ensure your events succeed?
A version of this article originally appeared on Alive With Ideas.