10 things I f*’d up at while organising company events (so you don’t have to)

In the last years Fronteer has hosted 10 ‘An Afternoon At The Fronteer’ events: mini symposia about co-creation and innovation. With the 11th edition coming up, it’s the perfect time to look back on what we’ve learned. Okay maybe we didn’t f-up at 10 things, but hey I got you reading. Let me share our mistakes so you don’t have to make them:

F*up 1:. A bad location

We hosted the first editions at our office on the NDSM shipyard. Far from a bad location, but we did make the mistake of hosting the event at our own office. Even though you are in the next room, it makes it harder for your colleagues to mentally leave their daily business for a company event. For co-creation events we always recommend inspirational locations and have even defined the four best places to co-create. So why not practice what we preach and apply this logic to our own events too? Luckily we teamed up with the ADAM tower and have been hosting our last three editions at the best spot in town, views of the IJ river really add to the level of inspiration.

F*up 2: Not involving your colleagues

Usually two of our colleagues are responsible for organising An Afternoon At The Fronteer. But, in order to really give your attendees the feeling they are part of your company, you need a large delegation of your company present and psyched for the event. Involve your colleagues on time (in the organisation, in inviting guests, in a role on the day itself). Another idea: rotate who organises the event. Former hosts are the best ambassadors within the company.

F*up 3:. Too much of your own dog food

I love the saying ‘eat your own dog food’, but it can be too much. The first few editions evolved around a show and tell of our own cases. Sure, the work we do is great. But we know now that it’s better to share a bit of your own projects and have one or two guest speakers complete the program. We are lucky to have had Arttenders and Vice inspire our attendees during the last editions. And we can’t wait to have Peter Paulsen from HEMA share his experience on the Lowlands camping store during the coming edition.

F*up 4: Choosing a vague, buzzwordy theme

‘The impact edition’, ‘The disruption edition’. They all sound really sexy but make it harder to find the right Keynote speakers. Plus, they can be confusing for potential attendees. Try to choose a theme people can relate to (without sounding dull). Our next edition is all about ‘The Brands of Summer’. How tangible is that!

F*up 5: Organising a day of listening

A full day of listening is the main ingredient for boredom. Most of the people attending our events already spend most of their days behind computers, please don’t ask them to sit still and listen during your entire event. Why not engage them in a creative exercise? At Fronteer we apply expert co-creation to solve our challenges and at our events we have a room filled with expertise. After we decided to introduce a co-creation exercise during our events, we got better feedback scores than before. Plus, you let everyone experience your way of working.

F*up 6: Not having great snacks & drinks

This speaks for itself.. drinks afterwards with views of the IJ river make your beers and bitterballs extra tasty!

F*up 7: Not having an ice breaker

At Fronteer we always start our co-creation sessions with an icebreaker. For example by knocking on an imaginary door to enter the session. It may seem childish, but you really need an exercise like this to have everyone involved and in the same mind-set. As we always invite an intimate group to our events (30 people tops) we can ask a simple question such as: ‘What’s your favourite movie?’ or ‘what’s your favourite summer soundtrack?’.

F*up 8: Not knowing who is present

Make sure you share the list of attendees with your colleagues and know who’s coming beforehand. If you share name tags with all attendees everyone present will also know who’s there. Don’t hesitate to invite company friends and former clients who can share their positive experiences with attendees who are just getting to know your company.

F*up 9: Not making a reusable to-do list

It may seem super obvious, but we have only had a clear and reusable to do list for the last few editions. Don’t reinvent the wheel every time. Document all your to-do’s, expenses and learnings in a spreadsheet so you have an overview of jobs to be done for every event you organise.

F*up 10: Not asking for feedback afterwards

You might feel you have completed your work after the event is over, but try following up by thanking everyone for attending and asking for feedback. By far the best way to learn and improve!

Okay, this list may make us seem like experts at hosting a company event. Want to find out if we really are (and get inspired at the same time)? Join our next Afternoon At the Fronteer: ‘The Brands of Summer’ edition, a mini-symposium about co-creation and innovation on Thursday the 5th of July.