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Guest Column: 4 Best Practices for Hosting a Successful Company Kickoff Event

The most successful company kickoff events are designed to invigorate, inspire, and educate employees. Here's how to do it well.

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Photo: Unsplash

Michele Dobnikar has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry and is president of GlobalMeet, where she oversees all aspects of the business—from strategy and operations to sales and marketing—to ensure the delivery of high-quality products and services to its global customers.

Company kickoff events provide enterprises with an opportunity to align teams on company projects and priorities, lay out the vision for the coming year, and recognize achievements. The most successful company kickoff events are designed to invigorate, inspire, and educate employees, rallying them behind company goals and objectives.

A typical company kickoff agenda includes a mix of team-building activities, leadership presentations, product updates, training sessions, employee celebrations, and goal announcements for the new year.

Today, company kickoff events can be in person, hybrid, or virtual. Whatever the format, the most successful company kickoff events are those that increase engagement and interactivity; focus on education; and facilitate connection, leaning into technology to enhance and support each of these elements. 

Keep it engaging and interactive.

Creating an engaging and interactive company kickoff atmosphere is key to holding the attention of team members throughout the event. Instead of one-way presentations, role-playing, scripted scenarios, or live practice sessions can be used to make the kickoff more interactive. Engaging content, dynamic speakers, and team-building activities are other effective ways to keep things interesting for participants.

Leveraging event technology to deploy gamification, live polls, chat, and Q&A sessions makes it easy to increase attendee focus, boost engagement, and galvanize participation.

Make it educational.

Relevant and engaging educational elements are important for briefing employees on new strategies, market trends, product updates, and performance techniques. Company kickoffs are also an opportunity to share updates on new initiatives, department goals and objectives, policy changes, and new tools and processes.

Digital event technology can help extend the value of kickoff sessions, recording and archiving these sessions in a video library that serves as a refresher for existing employees and an onboarding resource for new hires.

Foster connections.

Fostering connections is another important component of a successful company kickoff event. Designating time and creating activities that allow team members to interact, share thoughts on best practices, and talk about field experiences helps build relationships and increase collaboration. This informal communication is also essential to enhancing the overall event experience.

With many events going hybrid or completely virtual today, companies are turning to digital event platforms to enable networking opportunities and facilitate meaningful interactions, allowing teams to connect in breakout rooms and over chat channels.

Use technology.

Enterprise-grade event management technology can be deployed to integrate participants seamlessly and securely into company kickoff events. Architected to handle the digital logistics of an event from registration through post-event analytics, this technology makes it easy to create successful events.

In addition to supporting and enhancing the critical company kickoff elements of engagement and interactivity, education, and connections, digital event platforms with integrated analytical data and reporting features are also great tools to help meeting planners optimize future events.

During a company kickoff event, planners can use polls and surveys to collect feedback. Planners can also track engagement metrics such as how long participants spent in each session, what questions were asked, what videos were viewed, what content was clicked on, and what sessions had the most engagement. Monitoring a Q&A during the event is another way to determine the topics that most engage team members.

Valuable data can be collected after the event through personalized post-event surveys. Insights can also be surfaced by analyzing data related to who is accessing on-demand event content and videos and how often this content is accessed. This helps meeting planners optimize the format and content of future kickoff events to drive better interest, engagement, and participation.

When successfully executed, company kickoffs yield valuable benefits for companies, including boosting morale, creating alignment on goals, strengthening team culture and relationships, and igniting motivation. To capture these and other benefits of successful company kickoffs, companies should keep these events engaging and interactive, make them educational, focus on facilitating connections, and use technology.

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