5 Easy Steps to Make Meetings and Events more Playful

5 Easy Steps to Make Meetings and Events more Playful

Enjoy this engaging blog by FVEPA member Engagement Unlimited

Our philosophy at Engagement Unlimited is that without engagement, meetings and events are just a bunch of people sitting next to eachother.  With engagement, magic happens.  We are advocates of an Active Participatory model for learning and networking, and above all we believe in the incredible Power of Play.

Plato once wrote “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” – here are our tested and true tips for making your events more playful (and therefore more effective!)







1) Hire a Professional Emcee

Our favorite analogy is The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. His ratings went up 41% within a year of taking over the show.

A Jimmy Fallon-esqe host is positive, playful, incorporates music and stories, and brings out the best in people. Most importantly he ensures the best possible experience for the audience.

  • We recommend opening remarks that motivate people to get engaged while setting the tone for an energetic and playful dynamic.
  • Include several unexpected 5-10 minute vignettes throughout the event where the emcee reinforces your content in a creative way.
  • Have your emcee facilitate Q&As and group discussion – allow your emcee to improvise and inject humour.
  • Your emcee should also be your content weaver. He or she would ideally also have an education background in additional to being a fabulous communicator and engaging speaker.

2) Incorporate “Team building disguised as fun”

  • Look for products and companies that can customize their content to reflect your specific business objectives. For example, reinforce learning with fun trivia games or use brand values as inspiration for themes/activations/ content.
  • Create an activity that is layered on top of what would otherwise be an awkward networking function
  • You don’t need to carve out an expensive half-day off-site team building event that everyone dreads. A less expensive 1 hour, high energy group activity while also eating and drinking is a great alternative.
  • Incorporate opportunities for capturing compelling images and encourage social sharing

3) Embrace “Surprise and Delight”

  • Prank-based comedy is super on-trend right now. We call it ‘retroactive entertainment’ because people don’t know they are being entertained and then POW! it all comes together.
  • Do something unexpected. People will immediately pay attention.
  • Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks, but be sure you work with professionals to pull it off.
  • Use performers, speakers, facilitators that are multi-talented and can move effortlessly between style and delivery.

4) Choose Interactive over Static Entertainment

  • Incorporate pop-up performances, satellite stages, and roving performers.
  • Create a story arc for your event and draw people in to create a more experiential feel
  • Hire improv actors who bring your theme to life and have them provide a welcome experience that breaks the ice and then have them ‘work the room’ to inject energy where needed and interact with guests in a playful way
  • Create activation zones where guests have something fun to do, but make sure you have a facilitator who encourages people to get involved

5) Hire and Train the Right Speakers

  • Book professional speakers with an informal, interactive style. This will often lead to the playful approach you are looking for.
  • Read the speaker’s social proof (testimonials etc) to understand what past clients remember most about them. Look for words like energy, positivity, fun, and entertaining.
  • Give content speakers resources about presentation styles that you know allow for a more playful learning style (which you know also encourages networking), and ask them to keep that in mind when designing their sessions.
  • Give speakers a room set up that is optimal for informal interactions. Clusters of furniture that allow people to gather is groups of about 5 to foster small group discussions is best.