It’s music to my ears when a client says “We want to do something that will be different, something the guests will remember”. I’m in! Different, memorable…yes!
When I first met with the Executive Director of OCISO she was very clear on her needs but wasn’t exactly sure how to get there from here. They plan events often for their organization but this was different. This was their 40th anniversary and they wanted it to stand out from their other events.
They already had a date and a venue which meant that my first job was to meet with one of the committees involved in the planning to talk about the most important part of the event, the 40 year timeline.
The timeline was going to be the centerpiece of the event. Essentially the entire event had to run around this timeline. The committee I met with was in charge of the timeline and how it was to be presented. We met for about 2 hours and by the end of the meeting we had settled on an overall concept. And I was excited!!
I had toured the venue prior to the meeting so I knew that standard presentation ideas were going to be a challenge because of the unique space that had been chosen. The event was going to be held at allsaints event space, “a historic church re-imagined as inclusive urban space”.
One of the committee members had attended an event recently that had used a unique presentation concept that we adopted and transformed for our event.
The timeline concept became a gallery style presentation. We turned the timeline on its end and made it into 4 separate vertical presentations of images, dates and important immigration facts. We presented each timeline on it’s own gallery wall backed by original images and newspaper articles from the decades. When guests arrived they each got their name printed on a piece of paper where they were able to place their name on the timeline where they fit into the history of the organization.
With 40 years of history I am sure you can imagine that there was a lot to be said that night; a lot of memories and stories to be shared. My concern was that people would be sitting for 2 hours and be talked at. The concept that the committee member had presented was the perfect fix to this problem I was worried about. We wanted the event to flow a little more naturally, a little more modern and interactive.
We started out with no emcee. The event would guide itself through the itinerary. It would appear to be “random” but of course it was perfectly scripted. We had confirmed 4 main speakers, one for each decade. They were each given 6 minutes to speak. No one knew who the speakers were for the night and the guests wouldn’t know until the spotlight came on. When it was their turn to speak the spotlight hit their seat on the floor, up stood the speaker and they began the story of their decade. They were given 1 minute to speak from the floor at their seat then they made their way to the stage where they completed their speech with a presentation of images playing on a giant screen in the background.
One single person could not possibly tell all there is to tell for an entire decade. After each main speaker there were 2 speakers who followed. They spoke for 1 minute from the floor at their seats. We used the same concept of using the spotlight to direct everyone’s attention to the speaker.
We had created such a fun and interactive concept for the entire event that the closing remarks for the night needed the same love and attention. The Executive Director and I decided that the best closing concept for the event was definitely going to be to have others get involved. She had written a closing speech that we divided into 6 parts. Those parts were printed and taped to the bottom of 6 chairs. At the end of the night it was announced that if you found an envelope on the bottom of your chair then you were a part of the final presentation. The spotlight moved around the room as the final talk of the night was completed by key members of the OCISO community, totally by surprise to them.
Comments from some of the attendees at the event:
“Congratulations on last Friday’s extraordinary 40th anniversary event. OCISO never ceases to amaze those of us who are so privileged to be associated with you and your teams. Everything, from the young throat singers and presenters to the slides and food were so impressive. It was an absolutely great and very moving evening. So, thank you!!!!”
“I was really impressed with the whole event. It was professionally done and everyone involved deserves congratulations. I particularly liked the short speeches and the slides when the people were speaking. I was always looking for people I know or knew in the photos. This I would continue for another anniversary. The venue was excellent as was the food.”
“Never in my life have I attended an event that was so well planned to be fun, interesting, with not a dull moment and in a spectacular setting! The OCISO spirit shone through the whole time.”
“It was a wonderful event. The throat singers were so fun and inspirational. The people who were there from the very beginning were also inspirational and meaningful. Listening to the stories and the personal experiences was very moving. I really liked the “timeline” that was very special. I loved seeing people in their traditional dresses. The slideshow was awesome! I love the magnets the young women made.”