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8 ways to stage an unforgettable event experience

Spread a Virus your Meeting Attendees WANT to Catch

by Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, Copyright 2014

netaporter pixCountless leaders around the world leave their posts every day. That’s not news. Millions of meetings happen around the world, every day. No news there either—as most are uneventful at best.

But over the summer, Net-a-Porter CEO Mark Sebba came to work on his last day. His team—from offices around the world—staged a send-off he’ll never forget. You won’t either, once you watch footage of his farewell:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4u5VQlBENB8#t=0

This video went viral, for a reason. Actually, for at least 8 reasons. And in doing so, it can inspire us to design our own viral meeting hits.

Try implanting even just one or two of these elements, and watch your meeting gain buzz—in powerful, positive ways.

  1. Genuine: I could literally feel the energy of this crowd’s true love of their boss (their BOSS!) through the screen. Can you? How do your leaders show up? How do YOU show up when you lead, and how can you be seen as more real? At No More Boring Meetings, we have a tool box of ways to boost leaders’ authenticity. Ask for details.
  2. Memorably musical: Woven through the entire video is the song “The Man,” by Aloe Blacc. By combining music and lyrics, you have the most powerful instruments available for boosting memorability and cohesion. For your next event, have a custom song(s) written about your organization and your people. Or teach participants how to write their own songs.
  3. Personal: At every literal turn Mr. Sebba took, he received a deeply personal message from his peeps. Employees held up signs, flashed him big grins, sang to him, danced with him. Even flashed him (watch closely;).
  4. Inclusive: Whether you were a feather-headed dancer, a nearly naked model, or an introverted computer programmer, at Mr. Sebba’s send off, you had a crucial role to play. I bet EVERYONE was included, and able to participate in their own way, whether in San Fran or Shanghai. Further, modes of participation were all culturally appropriate, another form of inclusion.
  5. Surprising: In a good way*. Events are unavoidably boring when attendees can predict what’s next. (No wonder they disengage!). Make a point of surprising your guests—and your guests of honor—to build viral buzz. Net-a-Porter planners tapped the power of anticipation at a show-stopping level. But you don’t need to invite circus performers to create surprise and delight.
  6. Fast-paced: Like a mute MC, the blue-dressed dancer moved the CEO along at a good clip. Steer clear of boredom yourself by choosing only polished, professional hosts, whether internal or external, to smoothly lead your attendees through content.
  7. Theme-oriented: Did the catchy tune of “The Man” stick in your head like any good ear worm?? Used from beginning to end, the song left no doubt Mr. Sebba was—and this event was—the event of his working life. What theme will you choose to generate such deep resonance?
  8. Legacy-driven: What legacy do you want your meeting to leave? When you design with legacy in mind, you get legacy. When you don’t…you get b o r i n g.

Mark Sebba’s directive at the end, “Get back to work,” may as well be spoken directly to us as meeting professionals. Let’s get to work staging the next viral event.

* Some social media commentary around this video spoke of the belief that Mark Sebba knew about his farewell in advance; that this was simply a publicity stunt. For our purposes, it matters not. The experience—and the world’s response to it—are just as valid. Stunt or not, the world paid attention.

What’s your idea that can go viral?