Many conferences, seminars and workshops still follow a ‘coded format’ which delegates come to expect. This comprises of tea and coffee on arrival, introductory talk, presentations, time for Q&A and networking lunch etc. Whilst this serves a purpose, I do believe there is room to embrace the art of creativity, by providing delegates the opportunity to think and engage differently.
It’s well documented that participating in crafts can have a positive impact on mindfulness and wellbeing. Incorporating textile, paper and decorative craft into your event programme, can encourage active creativity, help social interaction and help delegates focus their attention. For some, it will be a mental challenge and form of problem solving, for others it will be a form of relaxation and fun.
Whatever your event objectives are, and with your target audience in mind, you can create some crafting experiences which will really enhance your delegate experience. Below are just a few ideas to get you started.
One of the simplest ways you can incorporate crafting is to set up some unsupervised craft tables which could be used by your delegates during their breaks. From colouring, sticking and gluing, you could lay out a variety of arts and craft supplies for delegates to use as they wish. You could also incorporate a craft workshop into your actual event programme to give delegates an opportunity to learn, be challenged and create. For these experiences you could choose activities from jewellery making, cup cake decorating, pottery painting, decoupage to creating festive crafts.
If time is of the essence in both planning and within the event programme, for a quick and simple nod to the creative, you could position a giant chalk board in your ‘social’ space which will encourage people to ‘doodle’. You could also provide delegates with a craft kit goody-bag which can also include event hand-outs, branded items and what next info to help continue engagement.
When considering your crafting options, it is easy to get a bit carried away and loose focus. It is therefore worth remembering these few top tips to ensure your crafting activities are planned and delivered successfully.
1. Keep your target audience in mind at all times. Think what they may like to participate in, not what you may want to participate in!
2. Be clear on the objectives of each crafting activity. For example, are you devising activities to challenge, encourage social interaction or for relaxation?
3. Schedule crafting into the programme. If its going to be a unique element of the delegate experience, make sure it’s part of it.
4. Allow enough time for delegates to participate. There is nothing more frustrating for delegates who have to walk away from something they are in the middle of doing. It will have quite the opposite effect.
5. Think logistics. Ensure there is the space, furniture, equipment and craft supplies available and in place for the craft sessions to run.
6. Ensure there is a member of staff to oversee all crafting activities. Even if you opt for unsupervised craft tables, you will need someone to replenish supplies and tidy after every session.
My best tip of all though is to have fun with it. Come up with loads of ideas and then filter them down to the practical and those with purpose.
For inspiration and ideas of what you could incorporate into your events, have a look at:
ICHF Events who organise and curate craft, cake & sugarcraft, design, textile & sewing, hobbycraft and Christmas shows across the UK. These unique events include exclusive exhibitions, workshops and much more http://www.ichfevents.co.uk
Crafting Live also run a number of events across the country http://www.craftinglive.co.uk