Kosta (@copernicc) released a good piece on #forbes about the Innotribe Belfast event, and this blog actually will take inspiration from the same event to talk about something not often disclosed: the behind the scene.
One of the often asked questions (fair to say, mostly by our own colleagues, but not rarely from attendees as well) is: why you guys deeply so much resources for Innotribe events, often going 3 or 4 days in advance, and with more people that what seems needed?
The short answer is: if you have never attended a Innotribe-like event (I am far for saying we are the only ones, even if – possibly – it s true at least in financial services) you can hardly get what the preparation for such a performance is. And – of course – if your reference is a serial power point presentation type of event (no matter how good or boring they are) it s even possible you don t even get what I am about to describe.
The difference between a designed and a non-designed event is the same as thinking of a dinner as a succession of (good, without doubts) dishes, in a nice decorated table, and the planning of a full dining experience, studying the profile of the guests, provide them a personalized welcome, helping them to socialize before-during-after the eating part of the evening, giving the possibility to personalize the table decor and settings, and contribute – if they want to – to the cooking experience.
This metaphor (take it or leave it) makes clear already that the design and preparation of the latter type of event would be way more complex than the previous one, not to mention more risky and cumbersome sometimes.
There is a very important question I after ask myself what I experience all this, and it s fair: why bother?
To cut a long story short, because conferences are – in general – deadly boring and dry.
And there is no law saying you can t have fun, be eclectic, free, informal, in a co-creation mode, and still learn and network (which, in principle, are the two main drivers for people attending an event).
There is another reason for this shift to happen: social disrupts many things, and one of them is the way people mingle, react and behave. Go, sit, listen, have coffee, sit again, listen, maybe ask a question from time to time if you re brave enough to do it, have lunch, and copy-paste the morning in the afternoon cannot be the way to go. NO matter how interesting is the topic.
So let’s talk a little about the elements of this: the design, the front facilitation, the environment, and the crew.
The design is how you want to shape the fil rouge of the conference and the different workshops in it (yes, without a workshop with real collaboration and interaction there is no conference of this kind) to reach the objective you have in mind.
That requires many hours of thinking, calls with the speakers (they have to understand the design and their role in the workshops) and input for the environment to be set up (for example a Monopoli type of game, in two different favors, among the different tables of six the room has been set up with – that happened in Belfast)
You could design the entire conference as a journey, or only pieces of it (like @Belfast)
The front facilitation is the person(s) taking care of mastering the crowd in the execution of the workshops. They need to have a good empathy with people somehow mastering a but the content of the job but most importantly make sure the objectives so the workshop are met.
The environment is not just chairs and tables. In a conference like Innotribe it goes into the details of what is on each table, the knowledge walls to beagle to snapshot the background of each topic, the whiteboards to scribe the content of the conference, and many more details.
The crew (and, in general, the whole team can act as a crew) is the pre and during the event delivery team. There are moments in a conference where you need to change the set up of the room from one configuration to another one, keeping in mind the forthcoming design, and like ants everybody has to “jump” and get the job done.
The result of it? An experience, not an event.
Networking becomes a side effect of it, not a wish.
Collaboration is tangible, interactivity not a buzzword but the core of everything you do.
Every single Innotribe event had a net promoter score over 80%. For the ones not familiar with it, means 80% more promoters than detractors. The price of it is hard work, long preparation days with little sleep and – sometimes – critics, usually from the ones who do not experience it.
A price we are very happy to pay.