The rest of the Swift Kick team doesn’t know it, but I have spent my day working from home on coloring and crafting and gathering supplies. Shhh, don’t tell!
I can’t tell you exactly why I am doing these Kindergarten activities without giving too much away. But I can tell you that it’s for tomorrow’s company retreat to kick off 2017. Melissa and I plan these quarterly retreats, and we get better at it each time.
All this prep work got me thinking about the key ingredients for putting together an engaging successful event, especially when we have a new intern joining our team.
What it means: Two retreats ago, Melissa and I had the bright idea that an overarching theme for our one-day extravaganza would help tie the whole thing together. We continued with this idea the last quarter as well, with a Willy Wonka theme. Tomorrow will have it’s own secret theme too. We do our best to make sure all the activities during the day look and feel like they belong in whatever world we throw our team into at the start of the retreat day.
Why it works: Especially when there are new members on the team, it’s important to make sure everyone gets on the same page immediately. Then, the planning and big conversations can succeed. By choosing a theme everyone can relate to and get involved with, we create a mini culture that makes us all feel connected.
Seeing it through their eyes
What it means: One of Swift Kick’s core values is SEE IT THROUGH THEIR EYES. In other words, we do our best work when we think about the people we do the work for.
Why it works: When planning a retreat, it’s incredibly important that we think about how it feels to be a new intern. They are getting a lot of information at once, and they might be nervous. So, we make sure we tailor the day to be less overwhelming and to break things down into pieces they will understand. We also make sure that even the most senior members get to experience something fresh and fun during the day.
What it means: One of the most annoying, but necessary, parts of planning a successful event is outlining the schedule for the day. We have to allot enough time for each activity, while still making sure we get to our dinner reservations on time. As the coordinators, we need to know our cues for transitioning from one part of the day to the next.
Why it works: Without the schedule, the day wouldn’t flow so well. The participants would feel awkward if me and Melissa were trying to figure out what we should be doing next. We wouldn’t be able to have much fun because our minds would be stuck on the basics. Scheduling intentionally is also important because we remember to include breaks and lunch so that the day-long experience feels balanced and stress-free.
If you start with these three ingredients, planning any successful event or program gets a lot easier. It also makes a better experience for everyone involved. Happy planning!