Episode 125 | 13 Tips for Throwing a Kick-Ass Company Summit

with Sean Kelly

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Is your company locked in departmental silos? Has communication stalled out? Is energy down, or morale dipped a little low?

A Company Summit might just be what the doctor ordered. Company Summits are a great way to unleash your creativity and tap into your team’s collective brain power.

But let’s not beat around the bush – company summits can be expensive. On top of out-of-pocket cost for things like venue, catering, coffee, and snacks, there’s the opportunity cost of having your entire company away from the office for half a day or more. You have to be strategic in order to make your summit worth the investment. 

So how do you make sure that your Summit is a hit and not a flop? AO host Sean Kelly has thrown a ton of these over his 12+ year entrepreneurial career. He’s here to tell you how to design your next summit for maximum ROI.

Sean’s Top Tips for Throwing an ROI-Positive Company Summit

  1. Prepare. The old adage that failing to prepare is prepare to fail definitely holds true here. You need clear cut goals, a dialed itinerary, and quality presenters.
  2. Determine the top problems you want your team to tackle. Figure out the biggest challenges your company faces, and unleash your team on them.
  3. Choose a moderator or facilitator. You’ll need someone MCing to keep the group focused and schedule on track.  If you don’t have someone on your team who fits the bill, consider hiring someone.
  4.  Maximize cross department collaboration. Break up those cliques! Don’t allow people to pick where they sit or who they team-up with. Instead, purposefully seat people from opposite sides of the house together for lunch and for break out sessions.
  5. Solicit high quality, vetted presentations by your best speakers. Keep these in the morning, have lots of back and forth and audience participation, ad reserve afternoons for breakout sessions.
  6. Put your teams of employees to work. Allow for teams to present their findings and compete with other teams to keep them accountable for putting in real work and presenting in a fun way
  7. Slot in lots of breaks and movement. Jumping jacks and hi-fives help keep the mood and energy up.
  8. Do NOT allow for a heavy lunch or energy-zapping snacks/food/drinks. (SnackNation can help you with all your snacking needs.)
  9. Book an inspiring space that allows for breakouts. A good rule of thumb – the venue should be cooler than your office space! No hotel ballrooms or lame event spaces.
  10. Provide alcohol at the end of the day. (But not too much.)
  11. Don’t make your summit too long! This should feel like intense work, but should not be massively draining
  12. Take notes. Designate someone to capture the best ideas. Remember, you want to walk away with more than just good vibes!
  13. Follow up. Make sure you connected with your leadership team afterwards and are aligned around expectations.
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Sean kicking off the 2018 SnackNation summit in front of the team.

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Space for breakout sessions is a must.

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Group presentations get people involved.

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Social bonding is still a big part of the value.

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Choose high caliber speakers and make presentations interactive.

Photos by Travis Miller.