If you ask people to describe the characteristics of a great event, one of the common responses is “dynamic”. They are usually referring to the sense of energy, buzz and excitement generated when you bring people together to share a space.

They are generally not referring to the space itself. Venues are usually static, especially the older ones, and although you can dress them up, they don’t flex or move with your event.

A challenging brief

Working with Bristol 2015 Ltd we were tasked with delivering an international executive level business summit, exhibition, parallel panel discussions and drinks reception at the Passenger Shed in Bristol. We had to fit a minimum of 200 delegates and had 1,500m2 of open plan space to do it in.

It quickly became obvious that space would have to become dynamic. There was no way to provide static space for all the required activities without severely limiting the effectiveness of each of them.

Bring in the inflatables

Our first decision was to bring in over 50m of inflatable walls and use them to create our three breakout spaces. These spaces were designed and built within the exhibition area, ensuring footfall for exhibitors and placing valuable content at the centre of the venue, rather than moving delegates into side rooms and away from the main event.

To help sign-post delegates to the correct session, we then used LED lighting to colour-code each space to the corresponding colour in the event programme. As well as helping delegates to find where they needed to be, the LEDs helped illuminate the spaces, reducing the need for additional lighting.

“Silent disco” panel sessions

To solve the problems of noise created by running three breakout sessions in parallel we provided multichannel wireless headsets to delegates allowing them to listen-in to each discussion. The headsets were extremely well received.

Not only does wearing headphones encourage audience members to focus-in on what they are listening to, it also creates a sense of intrigue for delegates who have not yet joined a session.

I’m sure many of the delegates had heard of silent discos (even if they’d never actually been to one) so wearing the headsets injected a sense of fun to the event, with many delegates walking between panels enjoying being able to dip in and out.

[It’s worth noting that from an organisers perspective, the headsets are more cost-effective than hiring multiple PAs (which would only increase the noise), take up considerably less space and are much easier to move.]

Changing the scene

Once the panel sessions had finished delegates moved back into the main auditorium (which we had also switched from theatre style to a group working layout!) and we set to work changing the scene.

All but one of the walls was moved; left in position to provide a backdrop for Krishnan Guru-Murthy to host informal discussions during the drinks reception. The other walls were moved to one side of the hall and used to screen-off the now-redundant plasmas, chairs and unused inflatables. By timing the move to coincide with a working session in the main auditorium the change-around was completed without disturbing delegates.

When the session finished delegates emerged into a “new” space for the drinks reception. The changed layout and adjusted lighting created a sense of surprise and anticipation.

Delegates were immediately aware that something different was going to happen and encouraged to be open to new experiences and connections, a perfect way to engage delegates for a networking session.

The event was a great success with many delegates expressing how much they enjoyed the way the venue changed throughout the day.

By incorporating modern and dynamic elements into the event (especially in such a historic venue) we created an engaging environment that added to the effectiveness of the event as a whole without limiting the scope of what the client wanted to achieve.

Photos: Paul Box

A dynamic approach

Inflatables (and silent disco headphones) are just some of the creative solutions that Focal Point bring to our freelance event management.

If you have a problem that you’re trying to solve on your next event why not talk it though with us. We could have something dynamic up our sleeves that just might work.

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