Magazine article Communication World

IABC at the IMPROV or ... 'Hey! Who Said You Could Have Fun at a Meeting?' (Business Conferences)

Magazine article Communication World

IABC at the IMPROV or ... 'Hey! Who Said You Could Have Fun at a Meeting?' (Business Conferences)

Article excerpt

The annual professional awards event like we look forward to having a molar drilled, or our car towed away, or being detained by the Turkish border police.

Why? Because none of those things are any fun, that's why. Somewhere along the line some prune-faced committee member tricked us all into believing that professional meetings should have the tone and atmosphere of a funeral. Well, Jack, the line stops here. It's the 1990s, my friends, and meetings can be fun ! What's that you say? You want proof? You want an example? OK. Here's how we did it in Cleveland, and how you can do the same thing in your Anytown, the world.

The Place Is the Thing

We started by selecting a place for our meeting that would break the traditional mold of oak-paneled corporate board rooms and chandeliered hotel meeting rooms. We picked a comedy club. There are more than 300 comedy clubs in the country, so there's got to be one in your town-even if you live in Fort Wayne, Indiana! (The club there is Snickerz. Hey, that's how they spell it.) Anyway, we selected the IMPROV, one of a chain of wellknown comedy clubs in the US.

Of course, the most important thing you need at a meeting is food. Fortunately for us, the Cleveland IMPROV has its own catering service. They serve dinner to comedy club patrons before the early performances on weekends. This made our meeting planning easy. For you in Anytown, however, the comedy club you choose for your awards meeting may just serve drinks. You will then have to work with the manager to see how you can bring in your own caterer. Just make sure you deal with somebody with a sense of humor-especially when it comes to the bill.

You might also be able to strike an arrangement with the club manager to make your program and their comedy show a package deal. For our Cleveland IABC awards program, one price (US $26 for members and $30 for nonmembers and guests) covered the meal, the awards program and also admission to that evening's comedy show. A Funny Thing Happened OK, everybody thinks it's a great idea that you've picked a fun place to hold your awards dinner, but what do you do now? Now ... YOU have to actually be funny. I mean, you used to be able to blame the dullness of your event on the site-the senior citizen center, the art museum meeting room, or the library community room. But now that you're actually in a fun place, your audience is expecting a fun meeting. Who you gonna call? Jokemakers.

Think about it. You're in a professional organization with a number of people who are professional writers. Albeit, most of them are stuck writing boring annual reports (forgive the redundancy), but I'm sure they would appreciate an opportunity to be truly creative.

So, first seek out somebody within your ranks who is truly funny and turn this person completely loose. If you have nobody truly funny (or if you live in Fort Wayne, Indiana), use your local comedy club as a resource. The manager can put you in touch with a few local comics. Either they can help you put your program' together or they can lead you to a local comedy writer who can. (The downside of this way is that it'll cost you.)

In Cleveland, my real job is writing speeches and publications for a nonprofit organization. …

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