How to Plan an Offsite Meeting Your Employees Will Love

Martina Cicakova
people at slido offsite

Companies invest lots of money and time into team offsites. As a company grows, these events become like mini-conferences that can get the team aligned and foster a sense of community.

Unfortunately, they often have the opposite effect.

To make the investment worthwhile, we need to think strategically about their structure, content and delivery.

This quick recap of how we structured our last company offsite meeting with nearly 100 people will help you make the most of your next team building. You can be sure nobody will be yawning if you follow these six tips.

For those looking for instant advice, here’s a list of the key points:

  • Kick off with a Newbies Quiz to introduce new hires
  • Get instant feedback on strategy and goals through live polls
  • Revisit your company values to boost team morale
  • Dedicate enough Q&A time to address any outstanding issues
  • Organize World Café sessions on burning topics
  • Share cross-team learnings in panel discussions

Welcome newbies with an interactive quiz

Have you hired new people recently? Why not kick off your offsite with a “Newbies Quiz” that turns typical awkward introductions in front of a group into a fun activity that takes the pressure off the new hires?

We’ve tried it. And it really worked.

Our Newbies Quiz, based on the Two Truths and a Lie game, was an entertaining way to introduce new hires and hear some of their best personal stories.

It was a fantastic icebreaker that kicked off the first night and warmed us up before we dived into more serious topics the next day.

How you can replicate this:

  1. Dedicate one person to moderate the quiz
  2. Collect two true and one false facts from each new hire in advance
  3. Create a multiple choice live poll for each newbie, e.g., “Martin: Which is a lie?” Tip: Make sure you hide the results before you activate each poll
  4. Introduce each newbie and ask the audience to vote for the answer they think is false
  5. Reveal the results and prompt each newbie to comment with a story

Collect instant feedback from the team on strategy and goals

When confronted with new objectives, people tend to have a lot of different ideas. To get their full buy-in, it’s crucial to make it a two-way conversation and address their concerns.

Following a light warm-up night, our CEO Peter kicked off the second day by setting out the company strategy for the upcoming months.

Throughout his presentation, Peter included a series of live polls to give the team members the opportunity to express their views on the presented goals.

Peter did so to demonstrate that everyone’s voice mattered. As a result, people felt empowered to give their thoughts on the company’s direction, and the feedback brought to light the general feeling about the strategy.

How you can replicate this:

  1. Once you have your slides ready, identify spots to include live polls
  2. Present the objectives and goals
  3. Run a set of polls, such as: “How do the numbers sound?” (multiple-choice poll), or “How confident are you that we can hit the new targets in Q1?” (rating poll)
  4. Comment on the poll results
  5. Encourage people to share their views from the floor

Extra Tip: To ensure you really understand people’s concerns, invite them to further elaborate on their answers after the session.

Revisit your company values to boost team spirit

Company success always starts with the team. So if you want your strategy to succeed, acknowledge this right from the start of your offsite.

Right after our company strategy session, we dedicated some time to remind ourselves of our mission and values, which drive everything we do.

As part of this, we established a Happiness Crew that will connect people across regions, run internal events and improve our workspace. It has one simple purpose: being there for each other.

Revisiting our beliefs, purpose and the why behind what we do helped us refocus on the bigger picture, boost morale and foster a sense of community. It gave our new hires a real grasp of our company’s essence through a deep dive into the team culture.

Build in enough Q&A time to address any outstanding issues

Sufficient Q&A time is the backbone of every meeting. Yet it’s still not given as much importance as it deserves.

While presenting key information is vital, it’s just as important to respond to your employees’ questions and concerns. We included plenty of space for Q&A in each session to help people understand the topic and deal with any outstanding issues.

We collected questions through Slido during all sessions. Instead of waiting until the end of the day to address them, we took questions in dedicated time slots after every speaker while the content was still fresh in people’s minds.

Some presenters even took the most burning questions as they came in.

Showing people their voices matter creates a culture of openness and transparency. At Slido, we want people to feel empowered to share thoughts and ask questions, even some difficult ones.

How you can replicate this:

  1. Build sufficient Q&A time into your agenda proportional to the size of the audience
  2. Remind people to submit questions throughout all sessions and upvote the ones they want answered the most
  3. Create an interaction point every 5-7 minutes to address the most burning questions as they come in
  4. Address the remaining questions in a dedicated Q&A time slot

Extra Tip: To encourage people to express their real concerns, you can allow people to ask questions anonymously.

Organize World Café sessions on burning topics

When you bring people together is when the magic happens. Having the whole company in one place is an invaluable opportunity for the team to learn and grow.

To make the most of the experience in the room, we organized two rounds of 30-minute facilitated World Café sessions to discuss our key projects. The topics ranged from improving our workplace and GDPR to product roadmap and open culture.

People chose the sessions they wanted to attend in a live poll and we delivered the seven most popular ones. The sessions created an effective learning space for those keen to understand each topic better and get involved in new initiatives.

Some discussions allowed us to dive deeper into important topics. Others helped us gather new ideas and test out colleagues’ views on new projects.

A truly valuable outcome of this activity was hearing insights from colleagues based in different teams and regions.

How you can replicate this:

  1. Create a list of the most important topics and issues for your company
  2. Appoint 1-2 facilitators per group who will lead the group discussions
  3. Run a multiple choice poll listing all potential sessions and ask people to vote for the ones they want to attend
  4. Facilitate the discussion groups for 30 minutes per round
  5. Bring everyone together at the end and ask each group to share its key learnings

Extra Tip: If too many people sign up for a small number of sessions, run the same sessions in two rounds to allow more people to contribute.

Share cross-team learnings in panel discussions

Collaboration is at the heart of every successful team. To create a collaborative environment at your offsite, why not invite colleagues to share knowledge in a panel discussion instead of a one-person show?

Sharing the spotlight with the team will make people feel valued and an important part of the company.

On our last offsite day, colleagues from our London and San Francisco teams walked us through the key events that we partnered with last year. They discussed their learnings and shared some of the biggest challenges they faced.

The most valuable part was sharing practical examples of the challenges they had dealt with, as not many people in the team got the chance to attend these events.

During the session, our colleagues presented real-life scenarios with possible solutions. They prompted the audience to choose the best solution for each challenge in a live poll before revealing what actually happened and the reasoning behind each decision.

How you can replicate this:

  1. Ask the panel members to present scenarios that set out challenges they’ve faced
  2. Run a live poll for each scenario, such as: “What would you do in this situation?”
  3. Comment on the results and ask colleagues on the panel to explain their solutions
  4. Address people’s questions throughout the session or during a dedicated Q&A time at the end

Extra Tip: To keep the audience active, collect questions throughout the session. Then create an interaction point every 7-10 minutes to answer a few most voted ones.

A few final pointers:

  1. Appoint a moderator for the offsite
  2. Prepare a detailed agenda in advance
  3. Choose a dedicated person to take care of the AV setup
  4. Invite colleagues to share the stage and present projects they’re working on
  5. Create enough time and space for people to reconnect

Wrap up

Offsite meetings provide a powerful platform to get the team members aligned, learn from each other and have fun. To make the most of your next company offsite, leverage these tips to boost team morale, get the buy-in from your employees and keep them engaged throughout the event. It definitely worked for us.

Are you planning an offsite meeting?

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