Five tips for designing and delivering conferences that move middle management minds to take action.
Do you want to get your workforce engaged in delivering the strategy that’s been drawn up (or at least agreed) at the boardroom table? If so, you need to fire your middle managers with enthusiasm. One of the best forums to connect is at an interactive conference or live events, like a roadshow.
Here are five tips for doing just that!
1. Create compelling messages
To begin with, you need a set of clear, concise and compelling messages that you want the entire organisation to understand and act on. That will give you a consistent foundation upon which line managers can add their local information. We often describe it as one company song for which there can be a number of arrangements, depending on the needs of discrete audiences.
Start as you mean to go on and get some of the event participants co-creating these messages with you; messages for the business, by the business.
2. Make it interactive
We use the word ‘participant’ deliberately. You don’t want ‘attendees’ or ‘delegates’ at your event, you want participants; you want your line managers interacting with your strategy and plans, being inspired by them, owning them and ultimately of course being advocates for them, with colleagues from the frontline.
You won’t achieve any of that if your conferences are a seemingly endless sequence of PowerPoint presentations, during which the audience dies in a hail of bullet points. Genuine interactivity is key to the success of a leadership event, and our team know so many ways to achieve this.
3. Secure commitment to action
It is important to share your vision for the future of your organisation, then give your audience a chance to check their understanding of it through carefully facilitated interactivity.
Find out what they liked about what they just heard, what was inspiring, what questions they have about making it happen and what might be challenging.
Then get participants truly collaborating to create pragmatic ways forward to overcome the challenges and help execute the strategy and plans in their part of the organisation. Get them thinking about the behaviours they’ll need to exhibit to model the way forward with their teams – and identify the behaviours that won’t work and need to be consigned to history.
4. Use the latest tech
All of the above can be a lot to cover in one event – and that’s where we often supplement traditional facilitation techniques with the latest audience interaction technology.
Using it we can quickly get instant feedback from the audience, capture their comments, anonymously if that helps, log and respond to their questions, prioritise ideas, even measure the success of the event – all live.
Post-event we can email individual actions plans and notes, created at the event, back to participants and send a ‘digital copy’ of the entire event to leaders as a Word doc or spreadsheet.
5. Help managers bring the baton home
As your event comes to a close, and while your line managers are all fired up, give them some engagement skills development, especially business storytelling skills, and get them practising how to share the buzz of event with their teams back in the workplace.
We think the success of any leadership event should be felt months after it has ended – by people who didn’t even attend, the people your line managers need to inspire, the people who will ultimately deliver your strategies and plans.
The conference presentations may have finished, but the task of inspiring the entire workforce has just begun.
For us, that often means co-creating ‘cascade packs’ that will help line managers thrive in their role of bringing your messages to life in their part of the organisation. Electronic copies of some of the slides just don’t cut it!
You should be super clear at the outset about the role of participants in cascading messages from the events. Be explicit about how you are going to measure the success of the cascade – that often gets people finding ways to make notes digitally or physically.
Take these five steps, and you’ll soon be firing your leaders and line managers with enthusiasm. Learn more about Axiom’s approach to designing and delivering great live events.