Our resident agony aunt Organised Olive is here to assist you with your event dilemmas. Just send her a question and she’ll be happy to impart her knowledge.
Dear Organised Olive,
It’s time for our annual global meeting. My problem is the evening, we have a lot of people that don’t necessarily know each other very well and quite a few with English as a second language. We have booked a quintessentially English venue for our overseas partners to experience but due to the diversity of languages any past attempts at networking during pre-dinner drinks have felt forced and uncomfortable. Do you have any suggestions on how to get the group talking and not just about the days conference?
What a wonderful thing, to have so many languages and cultures in one place and having the opportunity to show them what a beautiful country we have. But, I do agree, from an event perspective, what a challenge.
What is called for is a bit of lateral thinking so what I suggest is to allow them their free time during pre-dinner drinks and then call them through to dinner. This way you have the element of surprise on your side as you unveil their challenge – Strings. When the group enter the dinner room they will be expecting to see tables laid for dinner but instead a violin has been placed at each setting and a string group play them into the room.
Within only an hour everyone will be taught to play the violin and will play a piece together as a finale. It sounds impossible but I can assure you it is not and is actually very moving. There is no language barrier as there are very visual prompts during the activity and at the end of the piece there is a real sense of achievement. The conversation then very naturally flows as the starter is served.
I hope this has been of some help to you Alice and good luck with your event.
P.S If you have any questions for me do get in contact, remember as the great Nelson Mandela once said “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.