Less Is Beautiful - How to Boost Your Event

How can you achieve more with less? Cyriel Kortleven gives tips on how to boost your event.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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How can you achieve more with less? Cyriel Kortleven gives tips on how to boost your event. 


Hi Cyriel, welcome to our studio. You wrote a book, Less Is Beautiful. What can we learn as event industry from your book? 


I thought of writing this book because I had a feeling that we're living in a world where it's always more, more, more. And certainly as an event organiser. All the things that you have to do are quite complicated. So what I've tried is to find some interesting examples of how you can apply 'less is more' in different industries. But for example in the event industry, one of the things I've seen is that the presentations sometimes get shorter and shorter. And you have the TED-talks as an example, but also Pecha Kucha. So that's a format where you only have 20 slides, 20 seconds, so 6 minutes 40. What happens: the speaker really has to go to the essence of the story. But that's not a problem because afterwards the participants can ask more questions if they want or they can do something with the audience where they can go a bit more in depth. But you really get to the essence and that's quite interesting. Some other things that I've seen is that instead of organising everything yourself, what could be interesting for event organisers is crowd-funding. So for example you have a theme, you have some speakers, and you have the abstract of the conference, what you want to do. But you say: we need at least 100 participants and then we start organising it. And that is quite interesting, because then you already have your budget and you can play... 


And you can even ask what kind of speakers your audience wants.  


Yes, what I've seen is that sometimes they put a shortlist of speakers on the website, and then the participants can choose: "I would like to see this speaker or that speaker". Of course you need to plan it long in advance that you can hire those speakers. It's quite interesting, because you already start to interact with your audience in advance of the event. 


Is there really a need for this kind of approach in our society? 


What I see in society is that it is still about 'we need more' but there is also a counter-trend. So I see that people get tired of too many emails, too many trends that are happening. I have a feeling that people want to relax a bit more and need reflection time, so I think there is a need for this topic and a few of these examples might give you inspiration to look at the topic from a different perspective. 


And from your experience in the event industry, are there any other examples?  


Yes, a few things: some very simple things that don't cost a lot of money or time. That's for example with the badges. A lot of times people get a name tag. But what could be interesting is to give a blank one. And then you can do something with it: relate it to the topic of the themes. For example, if you're doing something on innovation, you can ask people: what was the best example of innovation for you in the last 5 years? Write down a hero. And then what happens is that people immediately have something to talk about. And you can do something when the event starts: the master of ceremony could do a little exercise with it. So that could be an interesting element. Another thing is maybe that you ask people in advance to share some quotes or images that they find interesting. What you could do as an event organiser; you just print them and use them as decoration. And what happens is that, again, people will start talking about it. They love to see their own quotes on the wall. So immediately you have input to make the event a bit stronger. So those are some very simple things that you can do. 


You made a very interesting slideshare on this topic, on interaction on events. And what I also read in it for example was business blind dates. What is that? 


What is a business blind date? It's that you put 5 or 6 people together in the beginning of the congress or maybe even in advance. Although sometimes people don't show up. You make a group of 4-5 people and you ask them: "okay, during the day..." -because sometimes there are different workshops- "during the breaks, lunch-time, come together and share your experiences and insights". But of course what's really important is that you take the time during the conference to give those people the time. So you have to integrate it in the process. Otherwise, if you just say it, it won't happen. They won't do it. But if you really integrate it and the master of ceremony is drawing attention to it, then it works. 


Another one: no break. 


Yeah no breaks... I think we need some breaks, but sometimes when we give a break immediately the people are gone for half an hour. What's the exercise, or what you could do, during presentations, is giving people two minutes of 'bla-bla-time'. You know, that they just can talk and relate about what happened, and they can share some stuff with the neighbour or the people who are sitting at their back. What happens is: they can relax a little bit and then they have full attention for the next speaker. So instead of going home and... People sometimes get too much information and they tune out. And by just giving them a few minutes of time, that might help. 


What I'm very curious about is the Bingo-method, maybe as a last one. 


Yeah okay, the bingo. What's the Bingo-method? You can use it when you work in a very interactive way with the audience. So you ask them to think about the strategy or the future of something. They form groups of 7 or 8 people. And then they share things, they have 20 minutes. And then you say: "we're going to do Bingo" I think you know Bingo: if your row is full, you have to shout Bingo. You ask a first group to share an insight. You get 20 seconds to share an insight. And if another group has talked about a similar topic or a similar insight, then the whole group has to shout: "bingo!" And what happens is that they stay attentive. Because they are listening to what is happening. They are not going to repeat themselves because maybe they have talked in different words about it. And the third thing is: you neatly see whether it's an important topic or not. Because if you have only 1 Bingo in a group of 500 people, that's not a lot. But if you have 30 or 40 Bingos, that's quite interesting. And then in 10-15 minutes you have a list of 5 or 10 top ideas or top insights from a group of 500 people. That's one of the examples. 


That's an interesting one. People who want to buy your book; where can they find it? 


Yes, you can go to lessisbeautiful.co, so not .com. No, leave the M: less is beautiful. So Lessisbeautiful.co and there you can find a preview and you can order it. 


Okay Cyriel, thank you very much for coming over.   




And you at home; thank you for watching. I hope to see you next week!