Sales teams have worked wonders this year. They leaned into virtual, hybrid, and anything they could to close the deal. But rewarding all that ingenuity with an in-person sales kickoff (SKO) hasn’t been in the cards lately.
That all changes in 2022. With the advances we’ve made in meeting safely, hybrid technologies, and our general understanding of ways to get together, in-person SKOs are back on the table. There’s a bit more to keep track of, and plenty to plan for, but we think this year might be the year of the most entertaining, energizing, and just plain fun SKOs we’ve seen in a long time.
With that, here are our top tips for hosting a Kick A$s in-person or hybrid SKO in 2022.
Make safety about comfort.
Safely hosting an in-person or hybrid SKO means creating an event where everyone feels comfortable chatting and mixing it up like old times (or close to old times).
A negative covid test or checking vaccination status is an easy way to put people at ease before meeting again — especially when traveling long distances. Companies such as Sameday Health — which offers high-quality rapid Covid tests nationwide, and Clear Health Pass, a secure app that tracks attendee health data — can make health checks a breeze.
Big spaces with plenty of ventilation are much more relaxing than cramped meeting rooms and create a safer environment. Many venues now offer redesigned indoor/outdoor spaces and vastly improved ventilation since reopening.
We also recommend checking out how recent events are meeting safely, such as music festivals and conferences. Chances are one of their safety plans will match up nicely with your event.
In the end, it all comes down to finding a mix of guidelines that are proven to keep people safe and make everyone feel like they can get down to work at the event.
Kickoff your new “connected culture”
“Connected culture” refers to how well your office blends work/life balance and all the ways employees feel like that can crush it at work no matter where they are working from.
A recent article in Entrepreneur noted, “Employees working for companies that foster a ‘connected culture’ are twice as likely to be productive when working from anywhere compared to those that don’t.”
Think of your SKO as a test run for how well everyone can work together in the new in-person or hybrid workplace. Take everything you’ve learned from remote or hybrid work and use the SKO as a template for future visions.
Everything from office safety to connectivity to just the general office vibe will be front and center at your SKO. Show off how well prepared you are for the next normal and get people excited to step back into office life together. However that may look right now.
Pick an amazing leader.
In a recent CNN article about effectively running hybrid meetings, Jenn Saavedra, chief human resources officer at Dell Technologies says, “You as the meeting host have to be meeting ready, your energy and preparation matters.”
Hybrid and in-person meetings are still going to look different for a little while. The meeting leader needs to be ready for any challenges. These could include making sure hybrid participants feel just as engaged or reconnecting those co-workers who have been apart for such a long time.
The right leader will be able to unite the whole team around the SKO’s goals, get everyone talking in the room like old friends again, and be able to wrangle everyone back on topic when necessary. So it’s a big job!
If you’re not sure who should lead the SKO, start prepping someone now. Get them used to engaging with people virtually while also meeting in person. In other words, get a leader who is prepared for how you want your office to run in 2022.
Theme still matters.
Last year we mentioned the importance of picking an SKO theme that connected emotionally with everyone, and how corporate themes like “Synergize!” or “Ignite!” just didn’t feel right. Well, the same goes for this year (and maybe every year for a while).
People will respond to a theme that feels like it was made for the moment. We’ve had a couple of false starts for getting back together, but it feels things are more on track these days. Think of a theme that acknowledges that, and everything we experienced the last 18 months.
Feel free to incorporate some humor, as long as it feels sincere and connects with your employees. Dig deep and think about your company’s unique experience and how you will inspire everyone in 2022.
Get more content out of your hybrid SKO.
A key benefit of a hybrid SKO is the ability to watch and participate live, while also having the option to stream live, or share the pre-recorded event content later on.
To do this, you will need a hybrid platform that supports everyone’s live stream, and is a place where you can host that on-demand, pre-recorded content after the event. Here at Expo, we recently launched Expo Theater in our Virtual Event Experience. This new feature can virtually connect your attendees and speakers in a fully immersive meeting experience that promotes real-time attendee engagement.
Beyond platforms, a hybrid event also allows you to edit the SKO after the fact to make it more impactful. You can create 5, 10, or 30 min. versions of the event for different audiences. Or create highlight reels that emphasize the key points.
A hybrid SKO can be like a living document that you refer to throughout the year or even add to with new material. It can become onboarding materials, marketing, or just about anything where you need a video of how awesome your company is!
Encourage some tangents!
We never thought we’d say this, but this is the time to let everyone chat, catch up, and joke around a little, especially if you are meeting in person.
Virtual meetings have been all business lately, and we try to limit them to only the most important moments. For many, this may be the first time they’ve been able to unwind in person with coworkers in quite a long time. Let people savor it.
Consider breakout sessions where people can brainstorm ideas in small groups. Or even open-ended segments where people can interject whatever has been on their mind over the last few months (even if it’s only tangentially related to the topic at hand)
There’s obviously a careful balance here to keep things on the rails. If you can create a relaxed and focused environment you might be surprised by what everyone brings to the table their first time back together.
SKOs are all about having a little fun this year.
Yes, there is work to be done in 2022, but meetings should spark some joy, and be something we look forward to now. Especially if they are in-person.
A well-thought-out safety plan is a good way to put co-workers at ease when meeting again. A good leader will bring out the best in everyone, wherever they are. And a solid hybrid platform will give you the ability to create tons of fun and interesting content for everyone involved. All in all, your SKO should be something that gets people genuinely excited for the year ahead.
Not ready to go back into the physical world quite yet? No worries, you can still plan a virtual SKO that will knock your team’s socks off (luckily shoes are not required in the virtual world).