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Producing a Successful Offsite Part 2/6: Does Your Next Offsite Have a Theme? It Should!

Vayomar team

| 6 minutes

Last time, we introduced the six guiding principles to creating winning, productivity-inducing offsites for your organization. In case you missed the post, click here to read it now. 

Today, we’re delving straight into the second of these principles – the theme. 

Now that the first component, the budget, has been determined, and the investment required to produce this event has been aligned with our company’s (or our organization’s) business and operational goals, as well as its corporate strategy, it’s time to think about how you can ensure the defined ROI will be achieved.

1 + 1 can equal 3… or 4… or even 5.  The more consistently a single thread goes through each of the offsite’s components, the greater the value of the whole will be than the sum of its pieces.

That’s what having a well-defined and relevant theme is all about.

A single, unifying idea, represented by a selected theme, must be incorporated into EVERY SINGLE aspect and dimension of your offsite.

For instance, if we are thinking about bringing in a guest speaker, or having an internal manager address our participants, they must be informed of the offsite’s theme and asked to incorporate this theme into their presentation. When all of the presentations as components of a single unit that share the same theme, they add value and interest to our participants, and subsequently drive employee satisfaction sky-high (at the offsite, and later, back at the office). 

Granted, I am clearly biased when it comes to the importance of speaker preparation. That being said, it IS cruicial that you consider what portion of your overall offsite is allocated to presentations. Doing so will help you better understand how much time and resources you should be spending on aligning presentations with your offsite’s theme and KPIs, while ensuring they draw in maximum attention and employee engagement.

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A)Divide the total cost of your offsite by the number of hours your offsite will span. 

B)Calculate how many of your total offsite hours have been allocated to presentations.  

C)Divide that number by the number of presentations you have to determine how much each presentation is costing you.  

For example, a large, international company asked for our assistance in preparing and running one of their offsites. One of the KPIs defined in the ROI component was “driving more sales within existing accounts.”  

To achieve this KPI, we had to leverage the company’s on-site technical support staff’s daily access to periodical business opportunities (simply by virtue of them being located on the client’s site). 

We sought to address the following issue: “How can we trigger a shift in their mindset, from a reactive a proactive one, in a way that primes them to identify business opportunities (which they are currently overlooking) and communicate these opportunities to the sales team managing that their account?”

We, therefore, defined the offsite’s theme as revolving around two words:“ Pro-activity” and  “Opportunity.” The offsite’s primary message was subsequently cast as “Opportunities are everywhere. You can and should pro-actively seek them!”

Once the theme was defined, the rest was easy and mainly required creativity (that’s always the fun part!). For example, we decided that we would scatter hidden opportunities throughout the venue, with free drinks at the bar for the first person to identify and communicate each of the opportunities:

  • During the registration at the start of the offsite, each participant got a name tag. The following question was printed on the back of the tag: “When did [name of the head of our organization] first join our company? The key of course was that this question was printed in very small font that required the use of a magnifying glass in order to read it (When did John Smith first join our company?)  
  • Several magnifying glasses were scattered around the venue – without us mentioning them, of course. The first person who noticed the small print and managed to read the question AND submit the right answer won free drinks.

A cool and unexpected development was when some people realized that they could use their smart phone to take a picture of the text and then enlarge the picture – exactly the kind of proactive attitude we were hoping to instill!

  • Another hidden opportunity took place during lunch.  When people were eating lunch, we placed a ‘Where’s Waldo’ diagram as place-mats, and the first person who actually paid attention and got up and said “I found Waldo!” won free drinks.
  • During one of the professional presentations, we wrote on the bottom of one of the slides “Text the word ‘OPPORTUNITY’ to 555-5555.” The first person who noticed it and did so won free drinks.
winning prizes

We used our creative minds to think of every single way that we could create hidden opportunities: we planted something in their hotel rooms, in the coat rack room, in the rest rooms…. you name it – we did it. 

We celebrated each found opportunity – regardless of what was going on at the time it was “captured” by one of the participants (even if this happened in the middle of a presentation).  

We never told the participants how many opportunities were actually hidden – so from their perspective, this part of the offsite wasn’t over until the very end of the retreat.

From an HR point of view, we were paying close attention to the growing number of participants who engaged in this specific ongoing activity as well as to the time it took them to find the next opportunity – viewing the drop in time it took to find one opportunity to the time it took to find the next hidden opportunity. The faster opportunities were found – the deeper our impact on their mindset was.

Now that we have 1) defined ROI and 2) established a theme, we can start moving into the execution stage of the offsite… total immersion. All this and more in next week’s blog. Stay tuned!  

To read the next post of the serious click HERE >>

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