Event format is one of the key ingredients for a successful event. Attendees now have much higher expectations. They are no longer content with being simply spectators. They are now looking for more active participation, experiential learning and memorable experiences.
Innovating your event formats will not only create impactful experiences for your attendees, but it will also encourage new ways of engaging, learning, collaborating and networking at your event. But remember, you should carefully consider the format of your event to keep it fresh and new while meeting the event objectives.
We’ve compiled a list of event format ideas to inspire each element of your next corporate event.
Icebreakers can be a fun and effective way to engage participants and create a positive atmosphere at an event. Here are some event format ideas for icebreakers.
This event format provides a great ice-breaker and gets your audience engaged from the get go. Simply ask your delegates to write event-relevant questions on pieces of paper, then get them to scrunch up their papers and throw them at one another. After the snowball fight, certain snowballs are randomly picked up and the topics on them are discussed in small groups. This fun activity will put your delegates in high spirits and get them engaged in the conversation.
Create a bingo card with various characteristics or experiences written in each square. Participants mingle and try to find others who match the descriptions in the squares. The first person to fill their bingo card wins.
Two Truths and a Lie
Each participant shares three statements about themselves—two truths and one lie. The rest of the group tries to guess which statement is the lie. This activity encourages interaction and sparks conversations.
Name Badge Descriptions
Instead of simply writing names on name tags, ask participants to add interesting descriptions or facts about themselves. For example, “Loves hiking,” “Enjoys playing the guitar,” or “Has travelled to 10 countries.” This encourages others to strike up conversations based on shared interests or curiosity.
Plenary sessions are typically the central and main sessions of an event, where all participants gather to hear keynote speakers and presentations. These sessions are designed to provide valuable insights, engage the audience, and set the tone for the event. Here are some format ideas for plenary sessions at events.
Silent Talks for Engagement with Multiple Sessions
This format allows for multiple sessions to occur simultaneously in the same place. Using wireless headphones with various channels, delegates can tune into different speakers. As a result, they are able to enjoy bite-size pieces of information and can ensure they’re always listening to something that interests them.
TED Talk Style
Invite speakers to deliver concise and powerful talks that are limited to a specific time frame (e.g. 15-20 minutes). These talks should focus on sharing unique ideas, experiences, or insights that are relevant to the event theme. This format allows for multiple perspectives and keeps the audience engaged with succinct and impactful presentations.
Case Study Showcase
Highlight successful case studies or projects related to the event theme. Invite organisations or individuals to share their experiences, challenges faced, and lessons learned. This format provides practical insights and actionable takeaways for the audience to apply to their own work or projects.
Incorporate multimedia elements such as videos, animations, or visual presentations to enhance the plenary session. These visual aids can be used to convey complex information, tell compelling stories, or showcase impactful visuals related to the event’s theme.
Panel discussions can be engaging and informative if structured effectively. Here are some event format ideas for panel discussions.
A fishbowl format is a great way to inject some audience interaction into your panel session. In this format two-three chairs are occupied by guest panellists with one chair left empty for audience members. Once the topic is introduced by the facilitator, the guest panellists start to discuss it. Any member of the audience can, at any time, join the fishbowl panel by occupying the empty chair. When this happens, an existing member of the fishbowl must voluntarily leave the fishbowl and free a chair. The discussion continues with participants frequently entering and leaving the fishbowl panel until the time is up. The session is concluded with the facilitator summarising the discussion.
This format creates a more relaxed and conversational atmosphere. Instead of a formal panel setup, the moderator engages in a one-on-one discussion with each panellist. The questions can be pre planned or spontaneous, focusing on the panellist’s expertise, experiences, or specific topics of interest.
Instead of a traditional panel discussion, each panellist delivers a short, focused presentation on a specific topic or idea. These talks are usually limited to a few minutes each, allowing for concise and impactful presentations. After all the panellists have presented, a moderated Q&A session can follow to delve deeper into the topics discussed.
Divide the panellists into teams or pairs with different perspectives on a particular topic. Each team or pair presents their arguments, counter arguments, and evidence to support their stance. The moderator facilitates the debate by posing questions, managing time, and ensuring a respectful exchange of ideas. This format encourages lively discussions and can provide multiple viewpoints on a subject.
Group discussions provide a platform for participants to share their thoughts, exchange ideas, and engage in meaningful conversations. Here are some event format ideas for group discussions.
Panel-Style Group Discussion
Similar to a panel discussion, a group of experts or speakers can share their perspectives on a specific topic. After their initial remarks, the discussion is opened up to the audience for questions and comments. This format allows for a more interactive and inclusive conversation, involving both the panellists and the audience.
Open Space Technology
Participants are invited to propose discussion topics or questions relevant to the event theme. These topics are written on a board or wall, and participants can then choose which discussions they want to join. Multiple discussions run simultaneously in different areas of the venue, and participants can move between groups freely.
Set up several tables or discussion stations around the event space, each with a different topic or question written on a tablecloth or whiteboard. Participants move from table to table in small groups, engaging in focused conversations at each station. After a certain time, participants switch tables, allowing for cross-pollination of ideas.
Networking is a crucial aspect of events, as it provides participants with opportunities to connect, build relationships, and expand their professional or social circles. Here are some networking format ideas for events.
Brain dates are a great way for delegates to learn from one another through one-to-one or small group sessions (dates). Participants make offers and requests for knowledge on topics of interest and are then matched together (either manually or via an app). Matched individuals/groups can then schedule meetings with one another, aiding both learning and networking.
Turn your event into a competition to promote interaction and friendly competition among participants. You can award points for asking questions, participating in the polling, contributing to the discussions and any other activity you wish to increase. Incorporate leaderboards to track progress and offer rewards for most engaged attendees. If you have multiple sessions you can have winners of each session with a cumulative winner at the end of the event.
Open Networking Space
Designate an area with casual seating arrangements, such as couches or lounge chairs, where participants can freely mingle and engage in conversations. This format allows for more organic and spontaneous networking, as participants can approach each other naturally without any structured activities. Provide conversation prompts or icebreaker questions on signage to facilitate interactions.
Expert-led Networking Sessions
Organise focused networking sessions led by industry experts or thought leaders. Participants can join these sessions to engage in discussions, ask questions, and gain insights from the experts. This format not only facilitates networking among participants but also provides valuable learning opportunities.
Remember to adapt these formats based on the nature and objectives of your event. You can also combine different formats or customise them to create a unique experience for your attendees.
Hopefully these ideas got your creative juices flowing! If you need help designing your next event format, give us a shout.
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