What Is A Storybook Day?
It’s a common goal for events wranglers:
Have this event be like a storybook day for the attendees!
That’s a mighty ambitious goal which will take a lot of work and luck to achieve. So…let’s start at the very beginning — a very good place to start…
What is a storybook day? This phrase means different things to different people, but for most of us, it will mean something special, out of the ordinary, almost magical will happen to us. An example of this is Melissa Hunter’s Instagram post, where she says:
“Walking to our car after a storybook day in the English countryside, I said, “Could this be any quainter?” and a rainbow exploded into the sky.”
Wide Spectrum Of Event Types
Creating and delivering an event that makes something special and magical happen for even one attendee is an ambitious goal. Expecting and hoping for it to happen to many or most of the attendees is downright preposterous. And yet, that is the goal for many events wranglers.
A storybook day seems most likely to happen at events which involve celebrations, entertainment, and emotions, such as weddings or parties, much more so than at events like industry trade shows or a training class. But even the generally unemotional trade show or seminar can have a storybook element.
Weddings, New Year’s Eve parties, annual company picnics, plumbing industry equipment expos, unconferences, and three-day environmental regulations training classes includes such a wide spectrum of settings, attendees, and specific objectives that it seems impossible to offer general suggestions or strategies to delivery a storybook day.
Each of those different types of gatherings can present unique opportunities for something out of the ordinary for its attendees. The events wrangler in charge should already be aware of most of those event-specific opportunities or should figure out what they are.
But there IS one magical ingredient you should focus on, regardless of the type of event you’re wrangling. Personal relationships!
Create New Relationships & Celebrate Old Relationships
Every event, regardless of where it is on the spectrum, involves people coming together. And anytime people come together, new relationships can be created, interrupted relationships can be rekindled, and old relationships can be celebrated and strengthened.
The events wrangler is responsible for those relationship opportunities in three ways:
- Including specific event agenda items or activities focused on relationships.
- Working hard to enable serendipitous connections or collisions.
- Becoming acquainted with many of the participants and connecting a few people who seem to need a bit of help or those whom you just “know” will instantly bond with each other, spend a long time talking together, and probably stay in touch long after your event is over.
The first item on the list involves the typical networking or icebreaker activities. These can be perfunctorily added to the agenda and just allowed to happen like they have for many years. Or you can seek out new twists on the old standbys and work hard to make the activities fun and relevant parts of the event that actually do help people connect and enjoy themselves.
The second item, enabling serendipitous collisions, will depend on your budget, imagination, and research into how serendipity works. You and the event goers need to be open to unexpected outcomes and activities which aren’t totally scripted. The serendipitous moments can be sort of like playing a game where the only rules are how to start the game, and maybe a couple rules for interacting with other players. After all, when two people meet for the first time, the only rules that should apply is that they listen to each other and that they be kind to each other. What happens after that is Life!
The third item is where the events wrangler can absolutely have an impact and can work the hardest to ensure that at least two people walk away from the event with a storybook day. This item requires you to get acquainted well enough with some of the participants to know whether they have a lot in common, including personalities that are compatible enough to potentially lead to a long term relationship. Find out what people are interested in, what they’re working on, what they need help with, what they’d like to help others with.
Introduce a few of these highly compatible attendees to each other, get the conversation started, then let them chat on their own. The two people may be a session presenter and an attendee at the session. You might talk with two different attendees who are passionate about the same topic. Maybe you notice two like-minded people whose situations may get in the way of them beginning a conversation, such as a big age difference, a social or financial status difference, or other personal factors. Give life a helping hand and initiate those connections you see just waiting to happen. If the people you connect do have interests in common and their personalities work well together, you may be responsible for a relationship which endures for years.
The other half of the third relationship item is connecting the attendees whom you can see need a nudge or are totally out of their environment. Figure out which other person at the event can connect well with the attendee who’s not fitting in. Turn the event from a failure and an unenjoyable experience for an attendee into an unexpected bright spot in their week. Maybe they never enjoy going to events. Maybe they have a personal issue which was preventing them from fully participating in the event. Put yourself in their shoes. Take the time to make sure someone else at the event acknowledges them as a person so they feel like more than just number 47 on the attendee list.
May every event you wrangle be a storybook day for at least two of your event goers! 🙂
PS — if your event includes alcohol, you might want to include a few bottles of Storybook wine. That will help ensure your event is a storybook day for at least a few wine lovers!
Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Eleven: Make a Prompt Personal
Today’s class assignment (on a Sunday?!!) is:
- Learn to work with outside inspiration so you never have to deal with blogger’s block.
- Publish a post inspired by a writing prompt.
- Visit our Daily Post site and check out today’s prompt — it’s in the dark blue box on the right.
- Include a link to the prompt so that others can find your post on the prompt page.
Give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.
Homework done. One prompted post published promptly. What’s Next? 🙂