IT was 1970s rock band 10cc who came up with the lyrics Art for Arts sake. Well, Events for Events sake are part of a bygone era too.
We’ve all heard of the business ‘jolly’ and most of us have more than likely been on one. Ensuring staff have a jolly good day out when it comes to business events is not the prime objective, though.
In fact for business owners, in these days of economic austerity, practicality beats aesthetics, substance edges style, every time.
Only for the most suitable – and yes, practical – learning project, will they consider parting with a sizeable fee.
As Brendan Barns, founder of the London Business Forum explains, there are trends in event subjects, with Leadership top of the list of recurring themes. And while being entertained is all part of the business event experience, taking something back to the workplace is paramount.
‘We create business-focused events on a range of subjects and we ensure there is practical value,’ he says. ‘You have to be able to take something you have learned back to the workplace and be inspired to do something differently.
‘No one is going to want to spend time and money on something which isn’t going to help their staff in their job function.
‘If you go to an event just to see someone laugh that’s not going to work. It doesn’t mean there’s a magic equation. I know Naked Leader has a formula [For Guaranteed Success] but we are all different and we all need something different in our business and personal lives.
‘It needs to be something we can get out of it, to make us want to tackle a subject in a different way when we return to the office.’
Brendan, who was once Naked Leader founder David Taylor’s agent and appreciates the qualities which earned David the European Business Speaker of the Year accolade, is all for employing speakers who will engage the audience and he adds: ‘Making sure something practical comes out of the session doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired and entertained at the same time.
‘We need to get away from boring speakers with 200 Powerpoint slides. The great speakers don’t need to use them because they know their subject and are passionate about how they deliver it to their audience. You don’t need people reading off cards or boring people rigid by reading off a script. Nobody needs to see that.’
Brendan reflected on a recent episode of The Apprentice which had the two teams going up against each other in organising team-building days for business clients.
He was impressed. ‘There were elements of good ideas in both teams. You have to remember they had one day to come up with something and I think people need to give them a break and see whether they could do the same in the circumstances. It was pretty good job with just 24 hours’ notice.’
So which subjects are the staple favourites when it comes to business-focused topics?
‘Leadership is always a core issue’, continues Brendan. ‘People want to know how to be good leaders, not just CEO’s but at all sorts of levels. A subject like customer service can come and go. It can be in vogue and then just disappear. Leadership always comes back.
‘The other popular one is learning how to be the best person you can be. Again, it has to have practical roots; it’s got to be something you can relate to back in the office, something that inspires you to use it in your working day.’
When I caught up with David he speaks very fondly of both Brendan and The London Business Forum, with whom he now does an annual event.
“Brendan was one of the people who believed in me before The Naked Leader was published. He showed a faith in me when I really needed it, and I will never forget that. He is a lovely man, dedicated to delivering business value to everyone who ever attends one of his events. We in Naked Leader have learned a lot from Brendan, and he has given me the courage to perform at The Comedy Store, for charity.”
THE Comedy Store – I am not missing that!
Also David will be at London Business forum, delivering his annual event organised by Brendan, on 12th November 2013:
David will strip away the mystery, jargon and hype to share NLP’s most powerful tools that you can use straight away. This practical, unique how-to session will include the 21 most powerful persuasion techniques in the business world