In SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS, Alex Palmer describes how William B. Meyer employees pitched in and helped prepare the food at a company retreat.
That was the genius idea of Kate Sirignano, Managing Partner at Image Marketing Consultants. The objective wasn't to save money. The purpose was to illustrate William B. Meyer's organizational values.
The shock of having to actually participate in that special event did, in itself, get the full attention of the employees. We speechwriters know the usual drill of preparing remarks for the kinds of retreats in which talking heads dominate and the audience struggles to look interested.
Kate is reporting a surge in the number of special events. When I met with her at a coffee house in Hartford County, Connecticut, she told me that, so far, most of the assignments Image Marketing Consultants has lined up for the first quarter of 2013 is special events. Weary of digital communication, people want to get back together. Also, thanks to the recovery, the budget is there to do that. What's frequently the focus is the reset from a recessionary economy to growth.
In terms of the scripting, I recommend interactive addresses which continually reach into the audience for input. No, that shouldn't be staged. Let the attendees know that process is being put together in real time. Also small panels, including guest experts, can be workhorses for triggering fresh thinking. Ideas are the currency of this global economy disrupted by technology.
Full disclosure: Now and then I subcontract for Image Marketing Consultants. You can reach Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.