Portmanteaulogy: Splicing Event Formats
Shortly after it became de rigueur for every forward-thinking company to spork-feed intensely-mined, crowd-sourced solutions to their problems via the thinking man’s current event format of choice (a hackathon), another portmanteau-based meeting style popped up – the confibition. Eager to arm my colleagues with the latest thinking in their eternal quest to find innovative solutions for our clients’ event needs, I shared my research into these new formats with my peers and suggested ways we could incorporate such disruptive meeting structures into future event solutions. Although the idea of a hackathon was met with much interest, the notion of a confibition was largely ridiculed as a new name for something that has been going on for years; a scientific poster session in a coffee break. Some even went so far as to suggest the word had been invented as nothing more than click-bait.
As a keen etymologist and dabbler in portmanteaulogy (the study of words or morphemes whose structure and meaning are derived from the blending of two or more distinct forms), this got me thinking; was there any new event, marketing or meeting terminology that could be created by splicing, dicing or cunningly punning current industry terms to create ground-breaking new concepts for audience engagement? After all, it works with musical genres, kitchen utensils, inventions and news speak and the events industry loves a good portmanteau. As workaholic event professionals, I’m sure we’ve all simulcasted webinars, had cellfish delegates on their mobiles mid-session, used our best netiquette when communicating online with event attendees, chillaxed with a frappuccino for brunch and resorted to using slanguage (Spanglish or Franglais) when linguistically challenged abroad.
Before I go any further, I should actually point out that the following are only a set of imagineered ideas, loosely formulated, half-melded and strictly unrefined. Please don’t take them too seriously. They’re intended to be equal parts edutaining, thought-provoking and punny.
A contest which requires team members to work closely together to achieve a shared goal. Like a team-building exercise – but with wittier nomenclature – this format will be embraced by those autonomous individuals who voluntarily work with others for mutual social, economic and cultural benefit. After all, it’s the taking part that matters most – right?
Has the global recession left you short on funds and with surplus staff to meet falling demand? Then why not hold a sackathon and gather your entire workforce together for a series of intense mental challenges designed to allow participants to show their comparable worth. Though perhaps not legal or ethical, this intense, task-based competition will weed out the weak and eliminate the excess baggage, leaving you with a stronger, leaner workforce that’s been whittled down by natural selection. A sure-fire Darwinner of an idea.
Do you have the same over-achievers smashing their sales targets and winning internal awards every year? Did you ever consider the effects this may have on the rest of your workforce? Although most would probably say these people are role models and are leading by example, it could also be argued that their achievements seem unattainable or unreachable by others, leading to a cumulative loss of motivation. So, how about uncentivising your top dogs to throw everyone else a bone and not do so well, allowing the chasing pack to catch-up? If the Maldives or Mauritius are your usual motivators then try using Moldova or Mogadishu as an uncentive to level the playing field.
Worried that your keynote speaker’s short-yet-interesting story about a real incident is losing something in translation when deciphered by your multinational event audience? Simply add some data to the equation to allow people to relate to the anecdote more easily. This approach lends itself well to scientific content and could also be used in infographic form at a confibition.
Inspired by the antejentacular, straight-edge danceathons that yuppies are attending to kick-start their day with some dubstep and a smoothie before work, why not liven up those secretive meetings that are held behind closed doors with some high-BPM electronic dance music and neon décor. With guest DJs spinning bootlegs and dodgy chaps selling vegan cupcakes by the toilets, the papal elections will never be the same again.
Keep meetings short, punchy, engaging and yawn-free by giving the audience all the power. Each attendee is given a buzzer which they are allowed to press as soon as they have had enough of a speaker. Once someone shows their discontent in such a manner the session stops for five minutes for attendees to stretch their legs, lungs or tongues, and when they return a new speaker is ready to step up to the lectern.
Has your product reached the end of its useful lifecycle? As an antithesis to the eye-catching stunts of activations, a brand deactivation would be a small product funeral attended by notable contributors, with modest amounts of nostalgia, some misplaced tears and a boozy send-off. Once the brand has been officially snuffed out and buried – or killed and grilled if you don’t want to take up too much cemetery space – staff can fully focus on the live products in their portfolio.
So what do you think? Are there some genuine ideas here or are you suffering from epiphanot-based anticipointment and unlightenment? Let us know via our social media channels.
Ewan Jamieson specialises in innovising event solutions at SPARK THINKING. He is currently learning to play the keytar.