Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
As a fellow corporate entertainment event planner in NYC or elsewhere, you know the feeling of having details coming out of your ears. Everything is your responsibility: venue, vendors, catering, rentals, contracts, capacity, seating charts, green M&Ms- you get the drill. In the crush to get the function planned and executed, safety frequently takes a back seat to convenience, and is often forgotten – until it becomes an issue.
One of my personal quirks is that I’ve got unusually heightened protective instincts. In addition to being an expectant first-time father, I also spent 5 years as a volunteer firefighter and EMT with my local firehouse growing up– meaning that my antennae are extended way higher than most when it comes to event safety.
When planning your next function, here are some safety tips to keep in mind – even if way in the back of your mind – to help ensure that your attendees, staff and vendors all enjoy the event without fear of injury:
- Don’t Block Exits – Especially tempting when venues are crowded or overbooked, don’t sneak a table, riser or row of chairs anywhere near the doors. Not only is this a flagrant fire code violation, but you’re putting your guests at risk if something happens.
- Tape Down Loose Cables – It seems like an attractive option to just tuck cables, cords and other event “snakes” along the molding or run them under tables, and nobody will know. Yeah, that is until someone trips. Bring your electrical tape to every event and secure your cables firmly, or else you might have a wipeout.
- Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets – We’re all guilty of this one. When my live trivia company runs events, this usually involves laptops, microphones, iPods and sound projection equipment- all of which needs to feed off of that one lonely outlet nearby. Maxing out an outlet, surge protector or extension cord is a recipe for trouble, so don’t do it.
- Lightening Means Get Inside – If your event is outdoors, such as a scavenger hunt, obstacle course, golf outing or what have you, rain is an acceptable risk. Lightening, however, is not. Don’t take chances here; even if the competition is fierce and people are having a blast, bring everyone inside at the first bolt.
- Don’t Store Propane Indoors – Will your event involve firing up the grill? Avoid the urge to pick up extra tanks in advance and keep them inside the venue or office supply room, in case- well, you can probably guess why this is a bad idea. Accidents do happen with propane tanks of all sizes, and you don’t want them inside when they do.
- Provide Transportation if Off-Site – Corporate entertainment generally involves alcohol, and unless you live in New York City or other large urban area, chances are your event will not be within walking distance from wherever you’re starting (or finishing). Always try and provide shuttle bus or car service if feasible, so that your attendees don’t unnecessarily risk driving dangerously.
The goal of a corporate entertainment event is to have fun, and allow your employees, clients or loyal brand enthusiasts to socialize and enjoy themselves. The last thing you as the event planner need to worry about is the safety of everyone there, so why not take a few extra steps to put your mind at ease?
If you can think of any other frequently overlooked event safety concerns, please feel free to leave them below- you may just prevent an accident from happening!
Times remain tough for employers and employees alike. As the sluggish economy continues to sputter, firms are generating less revenue, which means management has fewer options to reward hard-working staff with money or advancement. However, companies can still recognize and incentivize their loyal workforce by providing development and training, so that they may grow professionally and have a more diverse skill set.
Based on my conversations with a wide range of both rank-and-file and senior-level management at our corporate team building events in New York City, I have compiled the below list of professional skills which today’s knowledge workers claim they would like the opportunity to develop while weathering the stagnant economy. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Negotiation & conflict resolution
2. Time management
3. Forming & leading teams
4. Strategic planning
6. Consensus building
7. Conducting difficult conversations
8. Streamlining brainstorming sessions
9. Interviewing & hiring skills
10. Managing up
11. MS Office brush-ups
12. Workspace organization
13. Email/calendar organization
14. Public speaking
15. Dealing with difficult team members
16. How to handle difficult customers
17. How to conduct performance reviews
18. Multitasking tips
19. Effective team communication
20. Learning all the functions of mobile devices
21. Email etiquette
22. Meeting etiquette
23. Anger management
24. Social media / Web 2.0 strategy & tactics
25. General writing skills
26. P&L basics
27. How to make a good first impression
28. Thank you / follow-up email pointers
29. Power & influence building
30. Project management & leadership skills
31. Nonverbal communication skills
32. Listening skills
33. Note taking / shorthand
35. Sales pitching
36. How to dress for success
37. How to interface with senior management & board members
38. Project evaluation & measurement
39. Speed reading
40. Mastering the elevator pitch
41. Holding others accountable
42. Learning to become a mentor
43. Executive coaching
44. Managing change
45. How to spot statistical trends
46. How to take risks
47. Dealing with insubordination
48. Interpersonal networking skills
49. Conducting project post-mortems
50. Judgment / decision making skills
Even with financial limitations, surely you can find SOME way to provide your staff with professional training in at least one of the areas above. Your employees understand the environment we’re all in, and will appreciate the effort to give them skills, when dollars aren’t an option.
What are some other areas of professional development which knowledge workers are seeking, or would benefit from in lieu of direct compensation/advancement?
As the world gets flatter, teams are getting flatter right along with them. Thanks to the new digital workplace, team decisions are increasingly being made by consensus from members who weigh in remotely via email, conference call, Skype, text and a host of other ways.
By several measures, this is a good thing for the group decision making process: more voices allow for more insightful debate, additional buy-in among stakeholders, and increased options for possible outcomes. However, in an effort to reach consensus, larger groups also run the risk of not having enough dissension, and avoid asking themselves appropriately challenging questions (not to mention rushing to make decisions, so as to avoid scheduling any more time-consuming meetings). What can be done to address this?
The “devil’s advocate” gambit is a very good way to start. In a nutshell, someone is assigned this role at the start of a meeting, and his/her job is – putting it mildly – to be a major pain in the neck by raising doubts, challenging the status quo and being contrarian to every proposed idea or conclusion. So the group thinks that Idea “X” is a good one? The “devil’s advocate” highlights some major cracks and potential flaws. Is everyone in agreement on proceeding down Path “Y”? Not so fast- the “DA” has serious questions about the group’s assumptions.
I see this come into play all the time at our corporate trivia team building events. Very often, in the groups’ efforts to quickly right down the “correct” answers, not enough time or thought is given to other possible responses; a question is asked, to which just about everyone in the group quickly agrees to an answer – except for one person. If that outlier voices his/her concern loudly enough to challenge the group’s thinking and logic with regards to the correct answer, the group is forced to revisit the problem from different angles, and see if their response still holds up. The result, more often than not, is a better answer surfacing, which is actually the right one.
Especially if your team appears stagnated or is not being as productive/efficient as you know it can be, try employing the “devil’s advocate” at your next meeting, to test your assumptions and perhaps reveal some hidden imperfections in your decision making process. It may very well put you on the path to increased earnings – or save you from making very costly mistakes.
What are your thoughts on the role of the “devil’s advocate” in team decision making? If you disagree with the above, please explain why – I can stand to benefit from the “DA” as well!
As the owner of a professional trivia company in New York City, it’s my job to ensure that the questions asked at our events perfectly fit an incredibly diverse range of corporate cultures. But when it comes to using trivia as a team building activity, what kind of questions should be asked? After all, with so many different groups coming from different industries, there can’t possibly be a one-size-fits-all batch of trivia questions, can there?
The answer is no – to a degree. While some types of trivia questions are best suited for certain audiences (plenty of history and geography for the marketing/PR crowd, sports for the salesmen and bankers, multiple choice & current events for law firms) there are indeed some questions which are more versatile – mainly pop culture, such as TV, movies, fads, celebrity news etc. When tailored for specific groups based on age, gender, nationality and other factors, these kind of “evergreen” trivia questions will work in just about any group bonding scenario.
However, times appear to be changing, and people’s trivia tastes are changing right along with it. I read a very interesting article in The Economist this week, which used a comparison of the very first edition of the Guinness Book of World Records (circa 1955) to the current edition to illustrate peoples’ changing tastes in trivia knowledge. Whereas readers of Guinness used to absorb intellectually stimulating facts and feats, nowadays it seems reflect our preference for being amused by “eccentric, often pointless tasks” (they use as an example a guy who tripped 40 mousetraps in one minute- with his tongue). Is this really trivia? And is it appropriate for team building?
Professional workplaces are also continually being infused with young people, and as time goes on fewer and fewer employees will know older pop culture references – rendering loads of perfectly good trivia completely worthless for them. Does this mean that pop culture questions used at corporate events all have to be contemporary in nature? Do we have to replace Webster with Snooki to make an event meaningful and impactful?
My hunch is that, like most creative event entertainment, there is a happy middle ground somewhere. Trivia can evolve and adapt to successfully meet the needs of corporate groups who seek to use it as a means of boosting morale, improving teamwork, fostering collaboration and raising brand awareness, yet still hold on to the good nostalgic stuff from pop culture eras past.
And besides – trivia will always be fun, no matter what form it’s in. That I can guarantee.
Enjoy your weekend! I’ll see you again next week.
So you’ve been assigned the unglamorous task of identifying options for the upcoming corporate event’s entertainment. Whether it’s an employee team building activity, holiday party, client entertainment function or brand awareness event, in the end it all boils down to you spending a lot of time asking friends and colleagues for recommendations, trolling through Google, and making a ton of telephone inquiries.
To help make this tedious process a bit easier, here are the 10 most important questions to answer about each vendor when conducting your research – the things your boss will want to know, so that he/she can make an informed decision:
1. Price – There’s no getting around this. Your boss surely has a budget range in mind for the event, and will need to have a general idea of what the vendor’s services will cost.
2. What’s Included – Obtain a complete list of services which will be provided, as well as additional options/fees.
3. What it Will Look Like – Is the entertainment, activity or act appropriate for the culture of the company, the intended audience or the tone of the function? That’s what your boss is concerned about – so find out.
4. Capacity – How many people can the vendor entertain? What is involved if you need flexibility on your numbers?
5. Duration – How long will the entertainment last? What are options for extending/shortening?
6. Lead Time – When do we have to decide by? Do we need to secure the vendor’s services right now, or is there flexibility to book closer to the date?
7. Special Requirements – Will this entertainment require us to rent any furniture or special equipment? Do we need a certain type of venue? Is this location-specific?
8. Restrictions – Will everyone be able to participate? Can this be done indoors as well as outdoors? How about day or night, winter or summer, rain or shine?
9. Reputation – Does the vendor have a solid client roster & glowing testimonials? Any positive/negative reviews posted online? Any firsthand knowledge from people we know?
10. Did You Get a Good Vibe? – Based on your communications, did the vendor seem polite, professional and trustworthy?
Depending on the type of event, your boss may have more detailed questions about vendors before committing to one. If nothing else, however, make sure you obtain the answers to the above, so that he/she may make a decision based on solid facts across a range of important variables.
What are some other questions you think your boss will have when collecting corporate entertainment vendor research?