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Day 17 and 18: How not to run a conference

Employee conferences can be a fantastic way to get your workforce motivated, inspired and ready to help your organisation achieve its goals.

Or they can be a cringe-worthy attempt at enforced fun, death by PowerPoint and achingly painful to witness.

How do you do yours?

Today’s Countdown to Christmas article focuses on all things conference related. (Am using my artistic license and making it a double post to cover today and yesterday. It is the weekend after all…).

TheConferenceBack in June I received a copy of The Conference, a one-off publication by INVOLVE agency.

It’s been written in the style of the classic Ladybird books which are currently doing the rounds.

You’ve probably seen them in shops – you can get guides to all sorts, from The Hipster to Dating. I’ve bought a couple as Christmas gifts this year.

It made me laugh and I liked the style and approach. If you have a copy, you’ll find it impossible to read without wincing!

The book takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of the company conference and unpicks some of the myths and legends surrounding them.

You could view it as a guide of what not to do!

I’ve published advice via the All Things IC blog over the years about what makes a successful conference and shared stories from guest writers.

Want to read The Conference book? You can get your hands on one online.

Here’s what professional communicators think of the book:

I asked INVOLVE’s Client Development Manager Neil West to share the thinking behind the book. You can find them on Twitter @Involve_UK.

Over to you Neil..

How not to run a conference

INVOLVE-Conference-Book-CoverWe’re an engagement agency with 20 years’ experience creating award-winning work. We were eager to demonstrate our understanding of all of the different touch points that can make the classic company conference painfully ineffective, and that led to creating our little red book, The Conference.

We wanted to use The Conference as a way to showcase our brand personality, and to demonstrate our ambition to challenge the conventional – even with our own marketing communications.

INVOLVE Conference Book Neil

The book really seems to have resonated with the internal communications community, perhaps even if some of the jokes are a little too close to the bone!

INVOLVE Conference Book AnnaWe sent over five hundred copies to our current client base and some prospective clients.

It was important to us that we did something to delight our current clients but also produce something that might attract new organisations to work with us.



We’ve had clients describe it as ‘genius’, ‘hilarious’ and ‘I enjoyed it, but threw it in the bin afterwards’!

The book was never going to strike a chord with everyone.

However, our MD, Jerry Starling has hailed this the best ever marketing campaign we’ve created in our 20 years as an engagement agency.

It has been an amazing team effort and one that has been a lot of fun to work on!

Post author: Neil West.

Thanks Neil.

I’m always on the lookout for guest posts and good ideas to share via the All Things IC blog.

If you have a conference you’re proud of and have tips you think other IC pros could learn from, or want to share a conference disaster story, do Tweet me @AllthingsIC, comment below, or get in touch.

Want to learn more about internal communication?

MasterclassesThank you to all the professional communicators who have attended an All Things IC Masterclass in 2016.

Dates for 2017 are now live on the Masterclasses website.

These are day-long courses designed by and for professional communicators.

They’re held in London and you’re welcome to sign up.

Choose from:

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If you work for a nonprofit organisation, contact me for a 20 per cent discount.

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First published on the All Things IC blog 6 June 2016. Republished 18 December 2016.

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