Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Simplifying an Event Program to Give it Heart

By: Samantha Swaim
It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of planning the program for your event. The ‘must have’ speakers on stage, the recognition, the business updates.  Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what elements to keep and what elements to cut. But, when planning your event it’s important to think about how to inspire the audience.  It’s a large part of what will make them enjoy attending your event, remember you later and be compelled to support you.

Photography by Adam Bacher
Oregon Community Foundation is celebrating its 40-year anniversary this year, and wanted its state of the foundation annual luncheon to feel celebratory. So they looked to their program elements—entertainment, speakers, AV—to make this happen.

Photography by Adam Bacher
They started in fine fashion with a great performance by the Oregon 234th Army Band to energize the room. The program then took shape around their theme of Legacy Leadership Impact. OCF has deep roots and a rich history in Oregon, serving as one of the largest funders of education, the arts and the environment in the state with an annual giving total of over $60 million. But with so much good news, how do you tell share it all?

OCF had a fantastic 2-minute animated video that quickly and in an engaging way told their history and their future, showcasing the tremendous impact they have on the state year after year.

After this great video they filled their program with passionate speakers and spirited performances that kept the momentum both engaging and heart-felt. Speakers used the word ‘we’ to bring the audience—who was filled with a large amount of OCF funders and grantees—into the work and honor their involvement in what makes the organization great. A poem written specifically about OCF by Oregon Poet Laureate, Paulann Petersen enabled everyone to both hear her amazing work and think about OCF in an artistic way.

Photography by Adam Bacher
OCF is all about making Oregon a great place to live. How do you get an audience to feel that? You have Oregon musical darling Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini and the Oregon 234th Army Band play a beautiful 15-minute rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue” to end the event backed by huge screens with amazing scrolling pictures of every geographic corner of Oregon. The effect captured the spirit of the state and inspired the audience to see the diversity of Oregon and connect all those dots into one room committed to the future of the state they all call home.

1 comment:

Robyn Shuey said...

It was a great event! Simple message - engaging speakers and a sense of community - even with 800+ people in the room. No small feat! Great work OCF!