Event Brainstorming 101

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”   – Colin Powell

Student Body Leadership Council, my wonderful Event Team :)

Student Body Leadership Council, my wonderful Event Team 🙂

For two years now, I have been a part of a team Student Body Leadership Council at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. What we do best, is creating spaces to build community within our college campus by planning and executing large scale events. But before we do anything, we have WICKED brainstorming parties. Now I’m going to take you step by step with having a brainstorming meeting.

The Underground Event we planned for SEU's Welcome Week. 1000 people attendance in August 2012

The Underground Event we planned for SEU’s Welcome Week. 1000 people attendance in August 2012. We had Red Bull co-host, bring free Red Bull and DJ Booth. We also had Speed-Dating booths and Dippin Dots; the event theme was Futuritic with dupstep and techno music. It was so much fun!

Planning is KEY to being efficient and getting things to go more smoothly your direction when planning events; though it doesn’t foolproof a situation, it helps offset mistakes. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, the procrastination bug bites me every now and then, but listen to what I have to say for how to brainstorming.

LET’S GET PLANNING!!

With your event in mind, gather supplies for the brainstorming meeting itself. Let’s take a Autumn time-framed event for our example.

  1. Gather supplies to steam ideas in the brainstorming meeting. You want to set the atmosphere of the meeting room with things that remind you of the event theme; i.e. bring leaves to decorate the tables, have apple juice or hot apple cider to give the meeting attendees, rice cripsy treats in the shape of pumpkins, etc. Get creative to put the meeting attendees “in the mood” of the event so so speak. 
  2. Start with putting on music! It might seem silly, but research shows that music stimulates the mind to be more creative. Put on songs that are upbeat and fun!
  3. What we do is start with a small icebreaker, and it can be whatever. Look online for icebreakers to spark imagination.
  4. Break the room up into 3 groups and stick those huge post-it notes (or poster boards, whichever you prefer) on the wall (they can be found at various office supply stores in bulk). On each post it note, write one of these words at the top accordingly: Activities, Marketing, and Atmosphere.
    1. Things to consider for Activities for example could be for the fall event, bobbing for apples, potato-sack races, etc.
    2. Atmosphere could be music choice, decorations, details that make the event fit the desired feel.
    3. And Marketing for the event with “purple cow” as we affectionately call it; “purple cow” means exactly what it gives off: something that stands out from the rest. So that could be a huge paper machete pumpkin with the event details written on it, or hanging leaves with flyers attached with a hot apple cider booth next to it.
  5. Once the groups randomly break into according groups, time a session of 3 minutes for the people at each giant post-it (or poster board) to write down their ideas for the assigned word. And to be clear, and straightforward, let the team know that NO IDEA IS A BAD IDEA.
    1. This is BRAINSTORMING, so wild, out there ideas can spawn great ideas that are actually just crazy enough to wow everyone, as well as feasible to pull off. I’m not kidding, in just about every brainstorming meeting, we say we want a tiger! That’s write, we write it; hey, you never know when it could happen. For a while we always wrote mechanical bull, and last August, we got it. So go for it!! 😉
  6. Start the timer, put on the music, and let ideas fly. After the timer goes off, again, let the groups just mix up and go to different post-its (or poster boards) and do the process over again. After three rounds of switching, regroup and as the entire team, talk out all the ideas.
  7. Moving from one post-it to the next, reviewing each idea fully, let the majority census agree on the ideas and afterwards the event team can decide where to go from there.
  8. Thank them all for coming, get rid of any extra finger foods, or not, you can always snack on them when finalizing the next moves 😉

From this brainstorming process, we have planned and executed several events with crazy themes! Take a look at some pictures from previous events we have hosted with staring with this same brainstorming fun.

Our Fall Fest event, filled with a pumpkin patch, face painting for the kids, different kids game, live bands, and downtown food vendors. The event was open for the entire Lakeland and Southeastern Community.

Our Fall Fest event, filled with a pumpkin patch, face painting for the kids, different kids game, live bands, and downtown food vendors. The event was open for the entire Lakeland and Southeastern Community.

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One Big Night event, which comprised of a black tie night starting with a dinner banquet, award ceremony, and a killer after-party. It truly was one big night.

Photo Booth for the Guests at The Underground Event

Photo Booth for the Guests at The Underground Event

Mechanical Bull at our Western Event. Sounds a tad cheesy, but the event was a blast!

Mechanical Bull at our Western Event. Sounds a tad cheesy, but the event was a blast! We had mason jars for the cups with lemonade and tea… a takeaway for the guests too!

 

Thanks for reading! Stay classy, and start planning 😉

 

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