TL;DR: Supporting Program Definition
Whether it is about planning a special meeting or the yearly company party, an event is always a great opportunity to connect with the target audience. Usually, such meetings intend to familiarize the participants with a certain topic concerning the industry or company. These bigger meetings are generally at least one day long, so it is recommended to install a supporting program to break things up.
The intention of a supporting program is to loosen everyone up during, before or after conferences and conventions. A supporting program offers special and fun experiences, which helps to keep the event in the participant’s memories. When planning a supporting program, one should be careful to keep the target audience and company in mind. If carried out successfully, a supporting program can make or break an event.
Having a fun and engaging supporting program is not only important for offline events, but also brings some interest to an online setting. We have curated the ultimate list of online team building games and remote team activities if you need inspiration!
The purpose of a supporting program
The intention of conferences and conventions is to provide the participants with information concerning their company or industry. As mentioned above, a supporting program can aid in keeping this information in the minds of the partakers. But that is not the only advantage in installing them at an event:
- A successfully organized supporting program leaves a positive impression on the participants after the event is over. It implies that the organizers have thought about the audience and value their presence at the event. Not only do the participants keep the information presented during the main part in mind more easily, but also remember the great experience provided for them.
- Opening or closing an event with a fun supporting program is the perfect opportunity for participants to network and get to know one another. A comfortable environment promotes a collaborative and collegial atmosphere, which enables participants to work together productively.
- Attending a lengthy, dry conference is probably not how most people would choose to spend their time. Adding an entertaining supporting program to the schedule can entice those who otherwise would have taken a pass at the event.
- Meetings and conferences are usually long-winded and tiring. Even the most motivated participants have limitations when it comes to receptivity. Here, a supporting program can serve as a welcome relief. It ensures that everyone can actively listen and take part in the meeting.
- But not only the organizer and the participants can benefit from an added supporting program, but also the region in which the conference takes place. A supporting program often involves the immediate surroundings, so participants can go and explore new areas. City Challenges, canoe tours, or even a regional wine tasting bring them into contact with a region they never would have visited otherwise. They maybe even consider going back there for leisure in their own time. Therefore, it is not only a win for the event, but also for the economy of the area.
When doing a virtual event, a supporting program might even be more necessary than at an offline gathering. Looking through a screen makes your participants tired, bored, and they may struggle to focus. Read more on how to manage virtual teams successfully.
Ideas and examples
There is a plethora of occasions for company celebrations and conferences, so the choice for potential supporting programs is just as diverse. Ideally, the program is catered specifically to the event. Most conferences and business get-togethers are very lecture-heavy, so adding an interactive program, like one of the following, can break the ice.
Some hotels and venues already offer activity-based programs. As most conferences are sit-down events as is, concentration and motivation can take a toll. However, it can be boosted when some sort of movement is added in between talks. Easy fitness exercises can be added seamlessly into the program and do not have to take up a lot of time or resources.
Holding the conference at a venue most attendees are not familiar with can offer many opportunities for a supporting program. Incorporating city or location tours and added challenges will be a welcome change from the monotonous meetings. They can be completed by foot, bike, Segway, or any other mode of transportation. With a bit of creativity, the possibilities are endless!
Is the audience filled with lovers of the arts and culture? Then a music or theater program could be the right choice to shine. However, such programs only entertain passively. So, depending on the occasion, a more active program could be the better choice.
Depending on the location and event, it could be fun to incorporate a cooking workshop as a supporting program. A wine tasting is perfect for ending a packed day and winds a successful conference down nicely. If things should get more exciting, this could also be elevated to a blind tasting session.
Team building activities
Sometimes a supporting program can serve two purposes: To provide a fun diversion for participants, but also boost the team spirit in the process. Adding team building activities to a conference can immensely strengthen the atmosphere and motivation. No matter if city challenges, riveting outdoor games or even virtual activities – the feeling of togetherness will be boosted by throwing a little team building into the mix.
Still no idea which supporting program to chose for the next conference? Many hotels and locations have the necessary know-how for making a successful event happen.
Supporting Program Do‘s and Don’ts
When planning an event and supporting program, the age group and interests of the participants, the type of event as well as the location should be taken into consideration. The following questions and statements should be cleared up beforehand:
- Is the supporting program a surprise, or will the participants be informed beforehand? If so, the organizers should clearly communicate which equipment and clothing will be needed.
- Main and supporting program should be coordinated so that no big gaps are between the programs. This ensures that the time of the participants will not be wasted.
- Before the event takes place, it should be established whether partners of the participants will also take part in the program or not. Poor communication and preparation can lead to misunderstandings and a bad atmosphere.
- The demands and concerns of the participants should be established early on before the event takes place. Mountain climbing activities will not go down well if a big part of the team is afraid of heights, for example.
A successful supporting program can make or break an event. If the participants are enjoying themselves, there is a high chance that they will choose to take part in the next event or conference as well. Keeping this information in mind will help to elevate any event and make it an undoubtable success!
VIDEO: Online Team Building as a Supporting Program
FAQs Supporting Program
Is a supporting program necessary for every event?
The unsatisfactory answer is: it depends. You as the facilitator knows the audience and the purpose of the event the best. If you and your team get together for half a day of intensely working on a particular issue, then you may not need some fun activities to break things up. However, if your event is longer, adding an entertaining side program is definitely necessary for keeping your participants engaged and present.
How do I know which supporting program is the best fit?
If in doubt, ask your team. If your group is primarily made up of the older generation, physically challenging activities such as rock climbing are probably not the ideal choice. Team building are usually a safe choice, since they can be catered specifically go your team beforehand.
Is a supporting program expensive?
Again, that does depend on the program you choose to go for. Most team building providers are happy to cater the supporting program to your needs and, if possible, to your financial means. Whether the event takes place offline or online also has an impact on the price point. Online events require less preparation time, no commutes and can be shorter.